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Renewables group blasts Trump's call to repeal 'energy investment credit'

The Trump administration's call to repeal an "energy investment credit" and end accelerated depreciation for renewable energy properties will sow investment uncertainty, the head of the American Council on Renewable Energy said March 13.

But the proposals are unlikely to go far in the U.S. Congress, which has ultimate control over drafting and passing tax and spending legislation.

In its budget request for the 2020 fiscal year, the White House included a vaguely worded line item to repeal an "energy investment credit," a move it estimated would cut the federal deficit by $9.38 billion in 2020 to 2029. The administration also proposed to repeal accelerated depreciation for renewable energy property, terminate a credit for residential energy efficiency property and cut the federal electric vehicle tax credit.

Renewable energy backers slammed the proposals, which they said would threaten the federal investment tax credit, or ITC, for solar power projects. That credit, which Congress voted to extend in late 2015, allows solar projects starting construction before 2020 to deduct 30% of their installation costs from their federal taxes. The credit will then fall to 26% for projects starting construction in 2020, 22% for those beginning in 2021 and 10% for 2022 onward.

"The administration's proposal to abruptly repeal the investment tax credit and accelerated depreciation for renewable energy property promotes investment uncertainty, when the ITC is already ramping down," ACORE President and CEO Greg Wetstone said in a March 13 statement.

The group also criticized President Donald Trump's repeated calls to slash funding for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and eliminate the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, known as ARPA-E. But Wetstone said Congress "is likely to ignore" those budget requests.

For both fiscal years 2018 and 2019, Congress rejected Trump's proposals to eliminate ARPA-E and resisted large funding cuts for DOE research offices, including those responsible for renewable energy and efficiency work.