Expiring U.S. solar subsidy spurs rush for panels

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – America’s biggest solar power developers are stockpiling panels to lock in a 30% federal tax credit set to start phasing out next year, a strategy that could backfire if projects do not materialize or panel prices slide substantially. Duke Energy, 8minute Solar Energy and Shell-backed Silicon Ranch are among those working to claim the full subsidy, which is available to firms that either start construction or spend 5% of a project’s capital cost by the end of 2019. Consumers who purchase residential solar this year are eligible for the full tax credit, but the rules that allow the subsidy to be locked in now for systems installed much later apply only to companies. North Carolina-based Duke, for example, plans to claim the maximum credit on as much as 2 gigawatts worth of panels. That is enough to power 380,000 homes, even though some of those projects might not go online for years. Clean-energy mandates in many states and a push by companies to go green have given Duke confidence it can recoup its investment, said Chris Fallon, vice president of the company’s renewable energy arm. “We know there will be customers out there, we just don’t… continue reading

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