Bipartisan senators ask Treasury Secretary to expand storage tax …

Dive Brief:

  • Sens. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and Michael Bennet, D-Colo., wrote to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday asking for the expansion of energy storage eligibility under the renewable investment tax credit (ITC).
  • They’re seeking a determination from the Department of the Treasury on whether storage systems for residential or commercial use would fully qualify for the tax credits if retrofitted to distributed renewable energy resources, such as existing solar arrays.
  • Earlier this year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a ruling allowing new storage installers to access the credit when installed with new ITC-eligible technologies.

Dive Insight:

The residential renewable energy investment tax credit starts to phase down from its current 30% level at the end of 2019. According to the Department of Energy, solar electric systems, solar water-heating systems, fuel cell systems, small wind energy and geothermal heat pumps qualify for the ITC, which was reinstated by Congress last February.

The senators are asking the IRS to prioritize action on the ruling after the agency and the Treasury opened up a public comments request in October 2015 on what energy properties qualify for the ITC.

“The energy storage industry has waited patiently for this guidance — but three years is far too long a wait,” Bennet said in a statement.

Wider access to the ITC is expected to spur investment in storage, and clean energy advocates argue this expansion is necessary to help match the expanded deployment of distributed solar energy.

“As the Senators point out, fully qualifying storage technology for the ITC will free up investment from thousands of project sponsors, bolstering grid reliability and energy security for the future,” Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said in a statement.