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Utility Renewable Energy Capex To Remain Brisk In Face Of Tax Reform Uncertainty

Given supportive state, political, and regulatory backing for renewable energy, as well as ongoing improvements in wind turbine and solar panel technology and efficiency, we expect utility investments in renewable energy to remain robust in the coming years. Utility management teams increasingly view renewable energy as a path toward EPS growth while meeting state renewable energy goals and customer demand as the industry transitions away from coal-fired generation.

Planned renewables CapEx in our analysis are forecast to rise to approximately $9.6 billion in 2018 from $6.9 billion, and peak in 2019 at $10.4 billion. Many utilities have not provided CapEx plans past 2019, and considering our observations of recent years, actual investment could continue to rise despite the industry's projected spending declines.

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Central to utilities' push to add wind generation is the availability of federal wind Production Tax Credits, or PTCs, which provide a 10-year, inflation-adjusted income tax credit for wind energy production, and have been pivotal in driving both utility and independent power producer wind development. Beyond tax credits, continued technology improvements and cost declines in wind and solar technologies present a substantial incentive to add renewable generation.

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Aug 18, 2017
Research