Bill aims to extend MLP benefits to renewables, clean energy

By Erin Voegele | November 03, 2017

Sens. Chris Coons, D-Del., and Jerry Moran, R-Kan., and Reps. Ted Poe, R-Texas, and Mike Thompson, D.-Calif., have reintroduced legislation that aims to level the playing field for clean energy.

On Oct. 25, Coons introduced the Master Limited Partnerships Parity Act, or S. 2005. The bill aims to allow investors in a range of clean energy projects to access a decades-old corporate structure whose tax advantage is currently available only to investors in fossil fuel-based energy projects.

A master limited partnership (MLP) is a business structure that is taxed as a partnership, but whose ownership interests are traded like corporate stock on a market. By statute, MLPs are currently only available to investors in energy portfolios for oil, natural gas, coal extraction and pipeline projects. A statement issued by Coons notes that these projects get access to capital at a lower costs and are more liquid than traditional financing approaches to energy projects, making them highly effective at attracting private investment. Investors in clean energy projects, however, have been explicitly prevented from forming MLPs, starving a fast-growing portion of America’s domestic energy sector of the capital it needs to build and grow.

The new legislation would extend the benefits of MLPs to solar, wind, marine and hydrokinetic, fuel cells, energy storage, combined-heat-and-power, biomass, waste heat-to-power, renewable fuels, biorefineries, energy efficient buildings, and carbon capture utilization and storage.

“Clean energy technologies have made tremendous progress in the last several decades, and they deserve the same shot at success in the market as traditional energy projects have experienced through the federal tax code,” Coons said. “By updating the code, the bipartisan Master Limited Partnerships Parity Act levels the playing field for a broad range of domestic energy sources—clean and traditional alike—to support the all-of-the-above energy strategy we need to power our country for generations to come. This practical, market-driven solution will unleash private capital and create jobs, and that’s why it has earned broad support from Republicans and Democrats in Congress as well as think tanks, business leaders, and investors.  Updating the tax code in this way will help increase parity and ensure that these energy technologies can permanently benefit from the incentives that traditional energy sources have depended on to build infrastructure for more than 30 years.”

The Biotechnology Innovation Organization has spoken out in support of the bill. “The Master Limited Partnership Parity Act will help U.S. renewable chemical and advanced biofuel companies compete for investment dollars,” said Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO. “The global market for biobased products is projected to double by 2024. This legislation can help U.S. producers capture their fair share of that economic growth, revitalize the domestic manufacturing sector, and create new jobs and economic opportunities. We are especially pleased that the legislation captures the rapid growth and new classes of renewable chemicals that U.S. companies are developing, including those that reuse captured carbon.”

In the Senate, the MLP Parity Act was cosponsored by Sens. Coons; Moran; Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.; Cory Gardner, R-Colo.; Michael Bennet, D-Colo.; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; Angus King, I-Maine; Susan Collins, R-Maine; and Martin Heinrich, D-N.M.

In the House, the MLP Parity Act was cosponsored by Representatives Ted Poe, R-Texas; Mike Thompson, D-Calif.; Mark Amodei, R-Nev.; Peter Welch, D-Vt.; Jerry McNerney, D-Calif.; Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.; and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore.