BRIGHT IDEAS! – How airports can obtain a rebate from the Federal Government for new construction or renovations – an EXCERPT FROM THE AAAE ENERGY FORUM, March 7, 2014

by Steve Barrett

I was at the AAAE Energy Forum in San Diego a few weeks back.  The forum is a lesser known gathering of the AAAE community every two years where participants focus exclusively on energy issues.  I was fortunate enough to moderate a roundtable segment of the program where funding of energy efficiency technologies was discussed.  Topics included experience with Energy Services Companies (ESCOs), utility rebates, tax credits, and potential funding from the FAA.  

One of the real gems from the conference was a discussion of the 179d Tax Deduction Program, which allows designers to file energy efficiency projects for as much as a 20% tax deduction.  Now your first reaction is likely that airports, as government entities, cannot take a tax deduction because they don’t pay taxes.  And you would be correct.  However, the Internal Revenue Service allows government entities, including airports, to formally assign the tax benefit to a private entity involved in the project construction that can take advantage of and monetize the tax deduction.  

So what type of work is eligible for a tax deduction? 

Answer: any new construction or major renovation completed within the past three years that included energy code improvements that are above the ASHRAE 90.1-2001 Standard.  A simple example is changing out all your traditional lighting in a parking garage with LEDs.  20% of the cost of that project can be returned to the airport and project consultant through the 179d Program.  A real world example is occurring at Miami-Dade International Airport which installed a new central power plant and will be receiving a $1.4m credit for the work.  If you are interested in learning more, please send me an email.

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