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Solar Industry Takes Long View in Subsidy Debate

One option under review is a master limited partnership, which is a business structure that is taxed as a partnership, but whose ownership interests are traded like corporate stock on a market. Resch said such partnerships would encourage private investment in solar projects. A study by Southern Methodist University earlier this year predicted that extending their use to renewables could stimulate nearly $6 billion in private investment over the next decade.

Master limited partnerships are currently limited to oil, gas and other “depletable” energy resources, but House and Senate legislation (S 3275) introduced in recent months with bipartisan support would extend the benefits to renewable sources.

With a congressional debate about a tax code overhaul appearing likely next year, Resch said the solar industry would fight to ensure its investment tax credit remains intact through its scheduled expiration of 2016.

Should Republicans sweep the November elections, Democratic aides have said they fear the solar credit and a host of other clean energy tax incentives could be in danger of also being swept away by anti-subsidy fervor.

But Resch said he expects Congress would honor the short-term incentives for certain industries currently enshrined in the tax code — which he noted has sparked billions of dollars of investments in solar.

“In this case we’re talking about a provision that receives public support in excess of 90 percent,” he said. “So it’s a very, very popular industry to the American public.”

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