Senate May Kill Solar Rally
Source: Eric Savitz, Seeking Alpha (5/14/08)
Solar stocks have been rallying on reports that the House this week will approve a bill that includes extensions of tax credits for renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and biomass. And while it does appear likely that the measure will pass, there is reason to believe it will get killed off in the Senate in its present form.
Erik Olbeter, a Washington-based analyst with Pacific Crest, writes that enthusiasm for the bill is “misplaced,” and represents “a significant negative” for efforts to pass the tax credit package. “Industry representatives and lobbyists were hoping for a much better bill that might be able to muster Republican support in the Senate,” he writes. “This is not that bill.” And he says failure to win passage is a negative for solar companies with exposure to the U.S. market - he cites SunPower (SPWR) and Akeena Solar (AKNS) specifically - and for major wind turbine manufacturers, such as Denmark-based Vestas.
Olbeter says the House Ways and Means Committee will unveil today a tax package that would extend and expand renewable tax credits and reinstate the R&D tax credit. The bill would pay for itself by closing tax loopholes, “including one that allows fund managers to defer taxes on compensation earned from offshore funds and another that would allow multinational firms flexibility in allocating global interest expense.”
Olberter contends that the bill “has virtually no chance, in its current form, of becoming law.” He says the tax loophole closures “are a nonstarter with Senate Republicans and the White House, which opposes taxes generally and these measures specifically.” Olberter says the House is likely to pass the bill along party lines, possible before Memorial Day, but that Senate Republicans will kill the bill it if comes to a floor vote.