“Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the request for public recommendations on the 2020-2021 Priority Guidance Plan. I am writing to ask you to commit in the priority guidance plan to clarify Notice 2016-36 to address what some utilities believe is an ambiguity. The ambiguity is making it more expensive for developers of community solar projects and some commercial- and industrial-scale solar projects to connect such projects to the utility grid.
Notice 2016-36 addresses when utilities must report as income payments they receive from independent electricity generators to reimburse for the cost of grid improvements the utilities must make to allow the generators to connect new power plants to the grid.
Cost reimbursements that fit in a “safe harbor” do not have to be reported by utilities as
This may be most relevant to the growing new “community solar” industry. Community solar projects are utility scale solar arrays. Local businesses and residents subscribe essentially for a share of the electricity produced by the array. They pay the owner of the array a monthly or quarterly subscription fee. The owner of the array sends all the electricity to the local utility. The subscribers continue to buy the electricity they use from the local utility, but they are given bill credits by the utility for their shares of electricity supplied from the community solar array.
Community solar arrays sometimes connect to distribution rather than transmission lines. From a tax policy standpoint, it is hard to see why this should make a difference. The notice said the intention was to cover both.”
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Zero Point Development Inc. Internal Revenue Service Priority Guidance Plan 22 July 2020.