November 16, 2020 - Douglas Myser

Green energy companies want biden. Finance chiefs in the clean energy sector will face different realities depending on who wins the U.S. presidential election, but are eyeing the possibility of an economic boost under a Democratic victory. Renewable energy is one of several policy areas where the two candidates hold starkly contrasting views. Former Vice President Joe Biden has proposed spending $2 trillion to combat climate change and eliminating carbon emissions from the power grid by 2035. Trump meanwhile has challenged the science behind global warming and has eased or rescinded regulations on coal, oil and natural gas production. Green energy companies want biden.

Chief financial officer's manage their balance sheets through the red and blue political waves in the nation's capital. Regardless of the election outcome next week, clean energy CFO's say broader economic trends--including a rise in corporate sustainability pledges and socially conscious investing, and a decline in renewable energy production costs--have all been good for business. Still, a Democratic win could be a boon, these executives said. On the industry's wish list: prompt renewal of alternative energy investment tax credits, removal of tariffs on solar technologies and, more broadly, the establishment of a national clean energy plan, among other proposals. Share prices in renewable energy companies have increased in recent months in anticipation of a Democratic victory. The Wilderhill Clean Energy Index, which tracks renewable energy stocks, has climbed steadily since the spring, rising over the past month amid a broader market selloff. Green energy companies want biden.

The tax credit market, however, has faced challenges in recent months. Banks have less of a need for the credits because their taxable income has taken a hit during the pandemic, executives said. Additionally, the credits, which Congress last renewed in 2015 for solar energy and in 2018 for other renewable technology, began a multiyear step down period that lowers the amount companies can claim to 26% of eligible expenses instead of the original 30% rate.

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