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Tax Professionals Unfamiliar With U.S. Clean Energy Incentives, Survey Finds

Two thirds of accountants, tax lawyers surveyed by Bloomberg BNA say they are unaware how clean energy tax credits work

New York and Arlington, Va. ( March 13, 2012) - Tax professionals are generally unfamiliar with the various tax incentives available to private investors in clean energy projects, despite the fact that many have participated in other kinds of "tax equity" transactions, according to a survey conducted by Bloomberg BNA in consultation with Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

The online survey of subscribers to Bloomberg BNA's Tax and Accounting Center found that 35% of respondents have made tax equity investment either directly or on behalf of clients in areas other than clean energy, such as low-income housing.  Despite this, 65% said they were mostly or completely unfamiliar with the incentives available to backers of US wind projects known as the Production Tax Credit.  Only 7% described themselves as extremely familiar with the PTC, which was used to finance approximately 4,000 megawatts of wind capacity in 2011, or around 70% of total US wind installations, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates.

The survey comes as the US clean energy sector seeks to grow by attracting new private investment from corporations in the form of tax equity. Bloomberg New Energy Finance presents the results of the survey today at a White House meeting hosted by the US Department of Energy. The event brings together chief financial officers and others from Fortune 500 companies as the administration highlights opportunities available to large corporations in clean energy tax equity investing.

When asked why they or their clients had not made a clean energy tax equity investment, a majority answered that it was either not a strategic fit with the company's business or that they believed there were better returns available elsewhere. Twenty-one percent of those answering the question responded that they did not make the investment because they were unaware of a tax equity option. Nearly all of the respondents indicated that a clean energy investment would be for the purpose of supplying the client's own energy needs.

"These results suggest an information disconnect," said Michael Liebreich, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the clean energy market research division of Bloomberg. "Tax equity investing today offers backers of clean energy projects, based on proven technologies, comparatively high risk-adjusted returns, given the current low interest-rate environment. Apparently though, many in the tax community have failed so far to spot the opportunity for their clients."

Detailed results are available on Bloomberg BNA's Daily Tax Report. For more information, visit www.bna.com.

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