Sustenance of US Coalfield Communities Hinges on Extension of Solar Tax Credit: Report

The note also adds that the issue is not restricted only to tribal lands. Many coalfield communities nationally are also struggling as coal plants and mines are retired or shut down.

US Solar Tax Credit

The federal solar tax credit should be extended by at least four years in coalfield areas, like the ones around the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) and Kayenta Coal Mine in Arizona, according to a briefing note released by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).

“Scheduled curtailment of the tax credit comes at the worst possible moment for vulnerable communities that are facing impending closure of a power plant or a coal mine that provides revenues critical for government services,” said Tony Skrelunas, lead author and former director of economic development for the Navajo Nation.

As it stands, the tax credit, which was created in 2005 and renewed four years ago, will be stepped down annually — from 30% at present to 10% by 2022. The credit has been and still is a crucial catalyst to the still-nascent solar industry, which has yet to arrive full force in most communities that are being hit hard by the rapid descent of the coal-fired electricity-generation sector.

The briefing note — Extending the Full Federal Solar Tax Credit by Four Years (Through 2024) for Coalfield Communities — highlights that Hopi and Navajo communities will be sorely hurt by the closure this year of NGS. The Hopi tribal government will lose 80% of its revenue from the closure, and the Navajo government will lose about one-third of its revenue. The brief recommends accelerating efforts to build a regional utility-scale solar industry to help replace some of the lost tax revenue, a move that would be critical for creating jobs as well.

The note also adds that the issue is not restricted only to tribal lands. Many coalfield communities nationally are also struggling as coal plants and mines are retired or shut down.

“Such an extension would support economic development in these areas, and it would be especially helpful if it were to give priority to communities that don’t have enough time to effectively respond to impending plant and/or mine closures,” Skrelunas said. “For tribal lands, we also recommend a special federal policy provision that that would allow tribes to partner with experienced developers in a way that maximises monetisation of the value of the tax credit.

Ayush Verma

Ayush Verma

Ayush is a staff writer at saurenergy.com and writes on renewable energy with a special focus on solar and wind. Prior to this, as an engineering graduate trying to find his niche in the energy journalism segment, he worked as a correspondent for iamrenew.com.

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