In Washington, Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Representatives Mike Thompson (D-CA-05) and Ron Estes (R-KS-04) re-introduced bipartisan legislation to level the energy playing field by giving investors in a range of clean energy projects access to a decades-old corporate structure whose tax advantage is currently available only to investors in fossil fuel-based energy projects. Legislators say the Financing Our Energy Future Act is a straightforward, powerful modification of the federal tax code that could unleash significant private capital by helping an emerging class of energy-generation and renewable fuel companies to form master limited partnerships, which combine the funding advantages of corporations and the tax advantages of partnerships.
A master limited partnership (MLP) is a business structure that is taxed as a partnership, but whose ownership interests are traded like corporate stock on a market. By statute, MLPs are currently only available to investors in energy portfolios for oil, natural gas, coal extraction, and pipeline projects.
These projects get access to larger and more liquid sources of capital than are available for traditionally financed energy projects, making them highly effective at attracting private investment. Investors in clean energy projects, however, have been explicitly prevented from forming MLPs, starving a fast-growing portion of America’s domestic energy sector of the capital it needs to build and grow.
Newly eligible energy resources would include solar, wind, marine and hydrokinetic energy, fuel cells, energy storage, combined heat and power, biomass, waste heat to power, renewable fuels, biorefineries, energy efficient buildings, and carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS).