Project Economics

Chapter 10: Tax Incentives

In order to be financially competitive, most wind projects need to take advantage of federal and, where available, state tax incentives. It is critical to understand the role and mechanics of tax incentives while developing a commercial-scale community wind project because these incentives can represent one-half to two thirds of the total revenue stream over the first 10 years of operation due to the Federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Modified Accelerated Cost-Recovery System (MACRS) or other type of depreciation that can be applied to wind energy assets. You will need to consult a tax professional in the early stages of project planning to ensure that your financial projections are valid and accurately take into account the project’s tax burden and benefits.


Chapter 8: Costs

The cost of wind energy fell dramatically from the 1980s through 2003, then increased for most of the remainder of the decade. Then, as the recession hit, turbine orders declined and prices with them. Meanwhile turbine technology has significantly improved, so that they are  producing energy more efficiently than ever, which is the real bottom line.



Double-declining balance, five-year depreciation schedule (I.R.C. Subtitle A, Ch. 1, Subch. B, Part VI, Sec. 168 (1994) (accelerated cost recovery system)) is another federal policy that encourages wind development by allowing the cost of wind equipment to be depreciated faster.

Production Tax Credit (PTC)

Provides the owner of a qualifying facility with an annual tax credit based on the amount of electricity that is generated. By focusing on the energy produced instead of capital invested, this type of tax incentive encourages projects that perform adequately. In 2007, the rate for the PTC is 1.9¢/kWh. The PTC increases from year to year based on the consumer price index.

Passive Tax Appetite

Income from certain types of investments qualifies as passive income. Tax paid on this income is considered passive tax. To take advantage of the Federal Production Tax Credit (the PTC) and Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS), you or a project partner must be paying taxes that fit into this category of tax liability. For more information about what qualifies as passive activity see IRS Publication 925: Passive Activity and At-Risk Rules:

Passive Income

Certain types of income, as defined by the IRS, such as rental income or income from businesses, in which the earner serves only as an investor and is not actively engaged in running the investment as defined by the IRS. See Passive Tax Appetite.

Net Present Value

A common financial concept (and a critical component of Minnesota’s C-BED tariff), reflecting the idea that having a given amount of money today is more valuable than receiving the same amount of money in the future. C-BED requires utilities to determine the net present value of their rate schedule using the standard discount factor that they apply to their other business decisions. That means calculating the expected payments over the life of the contract and applying the discount to find the net present value of the series of payments.

Net Metering and Net Billing

The concept of net metering programs is to allow utility customers to generate their own electricity from renewable resources, such as small wind turbines and solar electric systems. The customers send excess electricity back to the utility when their wind system, for example, produces more power than they need. Customers can then get power from the utility when their wind system doesn’t produce enough power. In effect, net metering allows the interconnected customer to use the electrical grid as a storage battery.


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