For years, domestic content requirements have been a point of pain and frustration for government contractors. Historically, these regimes typically come in the form of the proverbial stick – that is, provide products and/or services that meet these country of origin requirements, or risk severe consequences (the billions in False Claims Act Trade Agreements Act settlements speak for themselves). But through the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, Congress has taken a unique approach by authorizing the Department of Treasury to use country of origin as a carrot – offering certain energy facilities bonus tax credits for meeting specified “domestic content” requirements. To create this new carrot, Congress relied heavily on the Government’s prior experience with domestic content regimes – pulling predominantly from the Federal Transit Authority’s (“FTA”) “Buy America” regulations, but with a Buy American Act twist. In doing so, Congress has left the renewable energy industry with more questions than answers on the applicability of the bonus tax credit to their facilities.
Ariel Debin is an associate in the Governmental Practice in the firm's Washington, D.C. office.