Solar investment tax credits are now more accessible

By Josh Miller

For more than a decade, large financial institutions like U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo, joined by Fortune 500 giants like Apple and Google, have been the dominant players in solar investment tax credits (ITC). Driven by federal incentives, these companies have provided funding for the largest solar projects in the country, collecting healthy returns while raising their corporate profiles as environmental, social, governance (ESG) leaders.

The benefits of solar ITCs are hard to ignore. Tax credit investors funding renewable energy projects can significantly offset their federal tax liability and recognize a meaningful annual GAAP earnings benefit. From 2005–2020, renewable energy tax credits have fueled the explosive growth of solar and wind power production nearly 18-fold.

The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act is a transformational bill with provisions that will entice large numbers of mid-size businesses and community banks to deploy capital into renewable energy projects across the U.S. It extends solar ITCs for at least ten more years (until greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by 70%) and retroactively increases the ITC from 26% to 30%, effective January 1, 2022. This extension and expansion of ITCs, along with other meaningful incentives included in the bill, will result in a significant increase in renewable energy projects being developed and constructed over the next decade.

Community banks are the logical source of financing for solar ITCs and traditional loans in response to this expected flood of mid-size renewable projects. Solar ITCs have a notably better return profile than other types of tax credit investments commonly made by banks. Solar ITCs and the accelerated depreciation associated with a solar power project are fully recognized once it is built and begins producing power. This is quite different from other tax credit investments, such as new markets tax credits (NMTC), low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC) and historic rehabilitation tax credits (HTC), where credits are recognized over the holding period of the investment (5, 7, 10, or 15 years).

Like other tax equity investments, solar tax equity investments require complex deal structures, specialized project diligence and underwriting, and active ongoing monitoring. Specialty investment management firms like KeyState provide support to community banks hoping to make solar tax credit (i.e., “solar tax equity”) investments by syndicating the investments across small groups of community banks. Without support, community banks may struggle to consistently identify suitable solar project investment opportunities built by qualified solar development partners.

Beyond the compelling return profile and stable and predictable cash flows offered by conservative, investment-grade solar projects, achieving energy independence, and reducing carbon emissions are critical goals in and of themselves. Solar tax credit investments can be a key component to a bank’s broader ESG strategy. The bank can monitor and report the amount of clean energy generation being produced by the projects it has financed and include this information in an annual renewable energy finance impact report or a broader annual sustainability report.

Miller is CEO of KeyState Renewables, LLC., a KeyState Company.

The KeyState Companies is a WBA Associate Member

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The winning photographs for the WBA 2023 Scenes of Wisconsin calendar have been chosen! A panel of five judges reviewed almost 200 submitted photographs and selected 12 striking images to be featured on each month of the calendar next year. Each photo submitted for the contest was captured in Wisconsin by a Wisconsin banker, their family member, or a bank customer.

The winning photographers for the 2023 calendar are:

  • January: Michael DeWitt, Northern State Bank, Ashland
  • February: Nicole Thompson, Stephenson National Bank & Trust, Marinette
  • March: Torrie Bland, First Bank of Baldwin
  • April: Dawn Huber, Farmers & Merchants Union Bank, Fall River
  • May: Melinda Shoemaker, Mayville Savings Bank
  • June: Jenelle Thompson, AbbyBank, Wausau
  • July: Lloyd Fleig, Frandson Bank & Trust, Eau Claire
  • August: Tyler Stamper, Bankers’ Bank, Madison
  • September: Isaac Christenson, First Bank of Baldwin
  • October: Daniel Anderson, Nicolet National Bank, Green Bay
  • November: Lisa Rosinsky, Bank First, Manitowoc
  • December: Pamela Plenge, Union State Bank of West Salem
  • 2023 Cover: Patty Vanstone, Town Bank, a Wintrust Community Bank, Clinton

EBC and MBIS offer flexible security for WBA-member banks

By Daryll J. Lund

As National Insurance Awareness Day approaches on June 28, all WBA-member banks should take a moment this month to review their insurance policies. While this is good practice in preventing certain aspects of the bank from going underinsured, it is also important to verify your bank and employees are getting the best offers for the best price.

The Wisconsin Bankers Association – Employee Benefits Corporation (WBA EBC) offers WBA-member banks competitively priced plans covering life and disability, dental, medical, prescription drug, and vision insurance. Our flexible plans allow Wisconsin community bankers the purchasing power usually only offered to larger groups and access to an online insurance portal. Contact Brian Siegenthaler at 608-441-1211 or bsiegenthaler@wisbank.com to learn more.

Additionally, Midwest Bankers Insurance Services (MBIS), co-owned by WBA, offers banks throughout Wisconsin security with three distinct lines of coverage — professional lines (FI bond, D&O liability, and cyber liability), property casualty lines (building, liability, business auto, workers compensation, and umbrella liability), and lending-related lines (mortgage protection/E&O, lenders single interest, force placed hazard, and flood). These coverage lines protect banks across the Midwest and allow them to stay ahead of the unexpected. MBIS offers solutions and protection from the best carriers in the insurance industry. Contact Jeff Otteson at 608-217-5219 or jeffo@mbisllc.com to learn more about enrollment.

As uncertainty in our daily lives remain — be certain that WBA EBC and MBIS are here to offer the best, competitively priced policies for both your bank and employees. Take the first step in strengthening your employee benefits package or bank coverage lines this June by enrolling with WBA Insurance Services!

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UnitedHealthcare provides WBA-member banks cost-effective benefit packages

By Daryll J. Lund

Now’s the time to start thinking about your employee benefits package and how an Associated Health Plan (AHP), serviced by UnitedHealthcare, could help you save. Gain similar purchasing power advantages and options that larger employers receive when you join other Wisconsin banks by enrolling in our AHP.

Through your enrollment in an AHP, your bargaining position is strengthened to help you obtain more favorable rates. A variety of flexible plan options are available to help balance costs and your administrative costs can be reduced through economies of scale.

And your employees will benefit too. They’ll have access to UnitedHealthcare’s provider network — the largest in Wisconsin — resulting in less disruption and a smoother transition. Wellness programs designed to motivate healthier habits and cost estimator tools to assist with making more informed care choices will help your employees with their overall health and budgetary goals.

The advantages don’t stop there. If you’re looking to add vision to your employee benefits package, UnitedHealthcare has you covered. Like their medical network, UnitedHealthcare has one of the nation’s largest vision networks. That means your employees will have the freedom to visit their favorite provider or retailer for vision services and eyewear needs. Alliances with Warby Parker® and GlassesUSA.com are included.

Learn how much you may save by contacting Brian Siegenthaler from Wisconsin Bankers Association – Employee Benefits Corporation at bsiegenthaler@wisbank.com or 608-441-1211.

By Daryll J. Lund

The Wisconsin Bankers Association Employee Benefits Corporation, Inc. (WBA EBC) was formed in 1982 and as our Association Health Plan (AHP) begins its fourth year, I would like to thank each WBA member that has chosen to trust us for their insurance needs.

The flexibility of our high-quality health benefits (dental insurance, medical insurance, prescription drug plans, and vision) as well as life and disability insurance are typically reserved for large employers but — through the purchasing power of WBA EBC — are offered exclusively to WBA members at preferred prices. In the last three years alone, our member banks have collectively saved $1.8 million thanks to their member-driven AHP.

This year we are pleased that nearly 40 banks throughout the state have chosen the WBA AHP through UnitedHealthcare for their health insurance program. Through your enrollment in our AHP, 1,800 members will have access to affordable, highquality benefits and insurance throughout Wisconsin. In addition, our partnership with Lincoln Financial provides life and disability coverage for 10,000 members and our Delta Dental plans cover 7,000 members.

I, along with WBA EBC Vice President Brian Siegenthaler and our dedicated team look forward to continuing to assist you and your employees through our one-stop-shop for members enrollment and administration. We thank you once again for choosing WBA EBC to provide for the well-being of all employees in your organization.

Visit www.wisbankins.com or contact Brian Siegenthaler at bsiegenthaler@wisbank.com or 608-441-1211 to learn more about the advantages we offer.

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WBA has welcomed nine new Associate Members since the start of 2022. The WBA Associate Member program connects service providers with member banks throughout the state in an effort to make the most out of your WBA membership. Thank you again to Arctic Wolf, Agrograph Inc., Bank Holding Company Association, Community Bank Mortgage, DCI – Data Center Inc., Hilltop Securities, Inc., Open Lending, Primax, and WIN Technology for the services offered to our members.

Arctic Wolf is the global leader in security operations, delivering the first cloud-native security operations platform to end cyber risk.

Agrograph Inc. is a global agrifinance company focused on data-based solutions that help industries supporting farmers. Our powerful A.I. solutions help companies anticipate trends, manage risk, and trigger important business decisions with our Boundless technology.

Bank Holding Company Association exists to provide education and business connections critical to the vitality of bank holding companies.

Community Bank Mortgage is a full-service mortgage origination, fulfillment, and servicing company that works with financial institutions throughout the United States.

DCI – Data Center Inc. provides private ATM network/card management, FrontLine™ teller software, custom analysis, risk/vendor management, and more.

Hilltop Securities, Inc. provides an array of financial products and services through our broker-dealer, mortgage origination and insurance segments. Hilltop has four primary lines of business: (i) public finance services, (ii) structured finance, (iii) fixed income services, and (iv) wealth management.

Open Lending (NASDAQ: LPRO) provides loan analytics, risk-based pricing, risk modeling and default insurance to auto lenders throughout the United States.

Primax provides community banks with payment processing services and an expansive array of value-added technology and solutions.

WIN Technology delivers an uncommon blend of private fiber-line network transport combined with IT professional services, managed services, and cybersecurity to the upper-Midwest.

WBA Associate membership should not be construed as an endorsement of the company’s products or services by the WBA. Visit the WBA Associate Member directory to learn more about member services.