Bipartisan bill expanding MLP access to be reintroduced this week

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, April 22, 2013

A bipartisan group of senators this week will resume its efforts to allow clean energy companies to take advantage of favorable tax rules that have benefited the fossil fuel industry for decades.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) on Wednesday will reintroduce the “Master Limited Partnerships Parity Act” with co-sponsors Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), an aide said yesterday. Moran co-sponsored the bill last year. Murkowski is the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Stabenow chairs a Finance Committee subpanel focused on energy tax issues.

The bill would expand the universe of companies that can organize themselves as MLPs, which are taxed as partnerships but establish ownership shares that can be traded like traditional stock. Unlike traditional corporations, which are taxed at the corporate and shareholder level, MLP income is not subject to corporate taxes because it is treated as a partnership.

Renewable energy advocates say expanded access to MLP status would allow wind, solar, geothermal and similar companies to raise more private investment than under existing law. Currently, MLPs are only available to energy companies in fossil fuel sectors, such as natural gas pipelines.

Coons’ bill would expand MLP eligibility to energy companies that currently qualify for the renewable energy investment and production tax credits, including wind, solar, geothermal and biomass. This year’s version expands the eligibility list from last year, adding waste-heat to power, carbon capture and storage, biochemicals, and energy-efficient construction, the aide said yesterday.

The bill is being reintroduced amid growing interest in expanding MLPs among lawmakers tasked with reforming the tax code and from President Obama’s nominee to lead the Department of Energy, Ernest Moniz, among others (E&E Daily, April 15).