Project Economics

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. The net present value is then divided by the total energy produced over the 20 years, resulting in the “net present value rate” – the present value of every kilowatt-hour the project will produce over its lifetime. C-BED requires that the utility establish a tariff that provides for a rate schedule resulting in a net present value rate of up to 2.7¢/kWh.

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. This helps customers get higher (retail) value for more of their self-generated electricity. In practice, net metering and net billing vary from state to state based on rules for such arrangements defined by the state. For information about your particular state visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy:

Modified Accelerated Cost-Recovery System (MACRS)

Businesses can recover investments in certain property through depreciation deductions. The MACRS establishes a set of class lives for various types of property, ranging from three to 50 years, over which the property may be depreciated. For solar, wind, and geothermal property placed in service after 1986, the current MACRS property class is five years. With the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, fuel cells, microturbines, and solar hybrid lighting technologies are now classified as 5-year property as well. 26 USC § 168 references 26 USC § 48(a)(3)(A) with respect to classifying property as "5-year property" and EPAct 2005 added these technologies definition of energy property in § 48 as part of the business energy tax credit expansion.

For more information, see IRS Publication 946, IRS Form 4562: Depreciation and Amortization, and Instructions for Form 4562. The IRS web site provides a search mechanism for forms and publications. Enter the relevant form, publication name or number, and click "GO" to receive the requested form or publication. Source: The Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy:

Internal Rate of Return (IRR)

A financial calculation that compares the present value of a project’s expected revenues with the present value of its expected costs. The IRR calculation is used to determine the discount rate at which the two values are equal. By doing this calculation, investors are able to see the project’s expected rate of return. The IRR will be a number where revenue exceeds the costs of financing the project. This means a surplus will remain after paying for the capital, and the investors will benefit from the investment. If the IRR is less than the cost of capital, the investors are not likely to participate in the project.


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