The IRS recently announced that the production tax credit (“PTC”) will be more valuable in 2013.  In the April 3, 2013 edition of the Federal Register, the IRS issued an important piece of guidance for those in the renewable energy field, stating that the PTC incentive would increase for the 2013 calendar year, from 2.2 to 2.3 cents per kWh for fully qualifying energy sources, while remaining at 1.1 cents per kWh for sources like open-loop biomass and incremental hydro.  The IRS last adjusted the PTC in 2010, when it increased the incentive to 2.2 cents per kWh.  Prior to 2010, the IRS raised the incentive from 2.0 cents per kWh to 2.1 cents per kWh in 2008. 

In addition to the increase, the IRS announced that because the 2013 reference price for electricity produced from wind (4.53 cents per kWh) did not exceed 8 cents when multiplied by the inflation adjustment factor (1.5063), the eventual phaseout of the credit would not begin in 2013.

While an increase in the PTC incentive will surely be greeted as good news by developers, many were hoping to have received guidance by the end of the first quarter on the new tax rules that were a part of the PTC extension.  Historically, a project’s qualification was determined by the date the project was placed in service.  Now, qualification is based on the date construction begins; that is, as long as construction begins before the end of the calendar year, the project is eligible for the PTC.  Guidance from the federal government is necessary on what suffices for beginning construction.  Until they hear otherwise, developers must operate under the assumption that they need shovels in the ground by December 31.