Senate, House panels probe solar firms

Source: Christa Marshall, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, September 16, 2016

Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) sent letters to seven solar companies this week to determine whether they used federal funds properly.

The chairmen requested the companies provide more details on grants they received under the Treasury Department’s Section 1603 program and more specifics on calculations they used to claim funds.

Section 1603 allows firms to receive grants for renewable energy projects equal to 30 percent of their qualified expenditures. First reported by The Wall Street Journal, the letter also asked them to provide details by Oct. 12 on things like their tax equity structures and third party financing.

The companies receiving the letters were SunEdison Inc., Abengoa SA, NextEra Energy Inc., NRG Energy Inc., SolarCity Corp., Sunrun Inc. and Sungevity Inc. They are a sample of firms under committee investigation, sources said.

The Senate Finance Committee has been examining billions of dollars in green energy incentives — including the 1603 program and investment tax credits — out of concerns that the Treasury Department and IRS lack adequate controls over cash distributions.

Will Craven, director of public affairs at SolarCity, said “the answers to the questions posed are fairly straightforward, and we will provide them as requested.”

The other companies did not respond to a request in time for publication.