Solar Companies Slip on Risk GOP Tax Reform Will Cut Key Subsidy

Written by Brian Eckhouse. This article first appeared in Bloomberg Technology. 

Vivint Solar Inc. and Enphase Energy Inc. were among solar companies that slipped Wednesday as investors confront the possibility that a key federal subsidy may be threatened by the anticipated tax reform proposal.

The still-unreleased proposal is expected to include significant tax cuts, prompting the government to seek places to make up the lost revenue. One potential target may be the federal investment tax credit for solar power, Colin Rusch, a New York-based analyst at Oppenheimer & Co., said in a research note Wednesday.

“The consideration of eliminating or reducing the solar investment tax credit should give solar investors some pause,” Rusch said by email. “We remain bullish on the sector given global growth and compelling unit economics, but believe the U.S. solar market may fall behind other geographies without the ITC.”

Vivint, a Lehi, Utah-based rooftop solar installer, fell as much as 5.3 percent Wednesday, and Enphase, a supplier of inverters used in solar projects, was down as much as 5.9 percent to $1.45.

The ITC offers owners of solar systems a tax credit worth 30 percent of their systems’ costs, and both companies would be adversely affected if it was reduced or eliminated. Wind and solar have been the fastest growing sources of U.S. electricity since 2014, spurred by federal tax credits. The credits are scheduled to be mostly phased out in the 2020s.

Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, last month called for clean-energy tax credits to be eliminated. Congressional Republicans on Tuesday, meanwhile, delayed the release of their tax-reform proposal amid last-minute negotiations over rates and the deductions that could be slashed or cut.

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