Massachusetts Booming from Film Tax Credits

Posted: September 28th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments » Warren Kirshenbaum

The Commonwealth has seen improvement in movie production numbers ever since the 25% movie tax credit (no annual or per-project cap, with sales exemptions for qualifying productions) was instituted in 2006. Nearly 40 films were shot here in the ensuing years.

The renaissance may have already begun: The Ryan Reynolds movie "R.I.P.D.," which shot in 2011, was the state's biggest-ever production, employing 950 crew and 3,300 extras, with a total spend of $108 million. Last year's total direct spend was $222 million.

But there's still work to be done.
For a long time, locations were pretty much all that the state had to offer, and there were no traditional stages set up for production. Public TV's WGBH has had small facilities in Allston and Brighton over the years, but they were of little use to TV series or large film productions. Retrofit situations and warehouses aside, Massachusetts has been thirsty for soundstages for years.

"Having stages would afford the opportunity to mount a film production in the wintertime," executiveproducer Barry Bernardi says. "Having a physical plant would be a great thing."

Fortunately, that's likely to happen now that construction has begun on New England Studios. The large Devens-based complex is expected to be open for business by next summer.

Reflecting the expansion of production in Massachusetts, the membership of IATSE Local 481 -- the union that represents film technicians and craftspeople in New England -- has nearly tripled since 2006, the year the state tax incentive went into effect.
"It's safe to assume (it) grew dramatically because the film tax credit incentive generated a lot of work," says Chris O'Donnell, the local's business manager. Growth will continue because "we have a very experienced and talented crew base and great locations."

For information on movie tax credits, the process and how to apply, contact the Cherrytree Group.

Original Article appeared in Variety

Wind Production Tax Credits Drive Wind Power Growth

Posted: September 26th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments » Warren Kirshenbaum

When the Hoosac wind project’s 19 turbines start generating wind power by year’s end in northwestern Massachusetts, the benefits will go well beyond pollution-free electricity.

American workers fabricated the turbines and blades and installed the towers, and American workers will operate them. The hill towns of Monroe and Florida will be bolstered by annual tax payments equivalent to more than 10% of their annual operating budgets. And the equivalent of nearly 10,000 homes will be powered by electricity that isn’t saddled by the health or safety risks of coal and nuclear energy.

This story is being replicated across the country as homegrown wind power has doubled over the past four years, to 50 gigawatts, sufficient to power 13 million homes and retire 44 coal power plants. Particularly exciting is the fact that since 2005, the percentage of U.S.-manufactured components in these wind installations has jumped from 25% to 60%, keeping more than 400 factories in 43 states humming.

A key driver of this phenomenal growth has been a low-profile federal policy called the wind production tax credit.

This tax incentive, which helps wind compete with coal and natural gas power plants, is critical for financing new projects. Regrettably, it is scheduled to expire at the end of this year and has become a partisan football, prompting Congress to slow-walk its renewal.

Ending this policy could recklessly stall an industry that has grown at an impressive clip through the Great Recession. Other factors share the credit for this explosive growth, including improved turbine design and mandates like the one here in Massachusetts requiring utilities to ramp up their reliance on renewables. But wind power developers will tell you that the production tax credit is essential for signing power purchase agreements with utilities and securing financing.

The consequences of killing the wind tax credit are dire. A December 2011 study by Navigant Consulting estimated that investment in wind projects would drop 65%, from $15.6 billion in 2012 to $5.5 billion in 2013, and the industry would have to lay off nearly half of its workforce – about 37,000 people – next year. Here in New England, plans to install nearly 2,800 megawatts of wind power would be jeopardized.

Fortunately last month the Senate Finance Committee voted by a 19 to 5 bipartisan tally to extend the tax credit for one year, which has the support of the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Congress should finish the job this fall and send an extension to the president to ensure that wind projects and the tens of thousands of jobs dependent on them go forward into next year.

For information or assistance with a wind production tax credit or other renewable energy tax credits, contact The Cherrytree Group.

Patriot Ledger

Wind Energy Advocates Want Senate Tax Credit Vote

Posted: September 14th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments » Warren Kirshenbaum

Wind energy advocates call this week “Wind Week” as they push to get the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy extended before Congress takes another undeserved vacation before the election. Wind Week shows the urgency with the upcoming expiration of the PTC at year’s end.

Bob Keefe, a spokesman with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), said in an interview with “The Hill” Monday that there is an eight-day window to get the incentive through the Senate. If the Senate does not act before Congress departs in 8 days, another wave of job losses might occur.

“The idea is that the PTC is gong to expire at the end of the year, Congress doesn’t have a whole lot of time to do something about it and these eight days are going to be crucial,” Keefe said.

The Senate Finance Committee passed a $205 billion tax extenders package before the August recess that included the wind incentive setting up the possibility for a vote. A tax extenders package is usually a non-confrontational bill that extends all tax-related acts that have sunset provisions meaning they expire periodically to allow Congress to review them.

The groups want to get the bill passed in the Senate to signal hope to the wind industry that Congress may act before the credits expire. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV.) has said he is "very confident" the incentive will clear the Senate this year.

Peter Kelley, a spokesman with the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), said on Monday that his organization does not know whether there would be a Senate vote on the package this week. “I guess with every day it becomes more likely that the whole thing will have to be done in the lame duck,” he said.

The uncertainty over the PTC has already hurt the wind industry. Vestas has already laid off workers in its two Colorado manufacturing plants. Other firms around the country have either laid off workers or announced plans to do so unless the credit is extended. The longer Congress fools around with this, the more damage the industry will suffer. There are 75,000 jobs in the wind energy industry and 37,000 will disappear if the PTC dies.

The November election brings more uncertainty. Wind energy has doubled under the Obama Administration, but Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are generally opposed to green energy and extending the PTC. The industry may be waiting for the election to get some clarity about what the future of clean energy will be.

Conservative groups are fighting the incentive. Americans for Prosperity, partially funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, and 60 other right-leaning groups opposed the incentive in a letter sent to Congress last week according to “The Hill.” Their opposition is mostly due to the fact they are either engaged in the oil and gas business, or receive funding from oil interests. These same groups advocated keeping the 100-year old $4 billion dollar package of subsidies to oil companies.

The wind incentive is also still wrapped up in a broader, more complicated tax bill. Many lawmakers are holding out for federal tax code reform. There is a fat chance that will get done in this Congress.

The House is less likely to approve the credit than the Senate. The lower chamber has yet seriously debated the issue, making its passage before the election unlikely. The House is controlled by Republicans.

The incentive’s supporters will release reports and boost communication with lawmakers this week with the goal of getting a Senate vote. The NRDC will release two reports on the wind industry Tuesday. The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) will release a report Thursday on Atlantic offshore wind energy. Environment America and other organizations partnered in the report, NWF said.

Also, executives from health, environmental and energy organizations sent a letter to congressional leadership on Monday pushing for an extension to the PTC and offshore wind investment tax credit. Signatories included NRDC, Environmental Defense Club, Blue Green Alliance and Physicians for Social Responsibility, among others.

Despite the good efforts of these groups, they are facing a strong head wind. Perhaps it will take divine intervention to save this vital industry.


Military Renewable Energy Projects

Posted: September 5th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments » Warren Kirshenbaum

The U.S. Department of Defense plans to open up 16 million acres of its land for renewable energy development, which it hopes will create a boom of solar, wind and geothermal projects and provide clean power to military bases.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed a memorandum of understanding to work together on promoting renewable energy generation projects on public land that has historically been restricted for military uses. About 13 million of those 16 million acres are located in western U.S., where a lot of solar, wind and geothermal power development already has been taking place on private and other types of public land.

The administration has been making a strong push for renewable energy development by funding both technology research and power generation projects. The administration wants to accomplish two goals by supporting renewable energy: creating jobs and finding alternative, cleaner and more abundant power sources domestically.

Last month, Salazar unveiled a roadmap for speeding up solar power project development on 285,000 acres of public land in six western states. 

The government support for renewable energy has indeed propelled the development of advanced materials and equipment and the construction of some of the largest solar power plants in the country.

The Monday announcement by the Defense and Interior departments involved not only land set aside for the military but also offshore locations near military installations. The goal is to promote onshore and offshore energy projects, such as erecting wind turbines in the sea.

The military has been vocal about its support of renewable energy, from electricity to transportation fuels, that it says will help it become more self-sufficient and reduce its vulnerabilities in the battle fields.

“Renewable energy will allow a military base to maintain critical operations for weeks or months if an electric power grid goes down,” she said.

The military wants to attract developers and private investments for building solar, wind and other renewable electricity power projects on its land. It plans to lease the land to developers and buy some or all of the power from each project for its own use, and any unused power will be sold local utilities, Robyn said. Each of the military services plans on getting 1 gigawatt of renewable energy installed near its bases by 2025.

For information on renewable energy development or renewable energy tax credits, contact The Cherrytree Group.

Forbes Magazine

Vetoed, Expiring, and Increasing Tax Credits

Posted: August 30th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments » Warren Kirshenbaum

Gov. Deval Patrick put his mark on an end-of-session job creation and economic development bill vetoing key tax credit programs.

Patrick signed a flurry of bills a week after the Legislature concluded its formal sessions for the year by sending an avalanche of legislation to his desk, including the economic development bill.

The governor used his line-item veto power to strike components of the bill eliminating a tax credit for start-up companies, expansion of brownfield tax credits, an increase in historic rehabilitation tax credits, and a change designed to qualify more communities for Gateway Cities grants.

Rather than extend the brownfields tax credit for two years until 2015, Patrick said his administration would analyze the program and make recommendations before its August 2013 expiration. The governor also rejected an increase to the historic preservation tax credit, and nixed a proposed $456 tax credit for new corporations during their first three years in business that he said could cost $7 million in fiscal 2014 and up to $19 million in 2015.

In order to take advantage of tax credits before they expire, contact The Cherrytree Group.