United States

United States

US senator reintroduces MLP legislation for wind

UNITED STATES: Delaware senator Chris Coons has re-introduced legislation allowing renewable energy projects access to a tax advantage currently only available to fossil fuel-based energy projects.

Delaware senator Chris Coons
Delaware senator Chris Coons

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The bill would allow renewable energy companies to operate as master limited partnerships (MLPs), which can raise capital more cheaply and attract more investors because they are taxed like partnerships but have shares that are traded like corporate stocks.

The change will allow renewables to "compete fairly" with traditional energy projects, said Coons, a Democrat.

The wind industry has been pushing for the MLP option, but there is some concern that for the structure to be truly effective, two other rules would need to be relaxed, making it virtually impossible for individual investors to use the tax subsidies available to wind energy projects.

The industry could also face opposition from industries already using MLPs. "I think they are pushing against the topic being raised," Martin Torres, executive director at Morgan Stanley, told the recent Infocast Wind Power Finance and Investment Summit.

"People are concerned about making any changes to exiting benefits because in this environment that's likely to lead to a discussion about how the existing benefits just get cut, not necessarily amended, and certainly not broadened."

However, Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, said Tuesday that the oil industry would back plans to expand the program.

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