New investment exemption from the Electricity Generator Levy (EGL)

New measure will exempt electricity generation receipts from the EGL arising from new investments in generating stations

EGL exemption for new investment in generating stations

Draft legislation published on 18 December 2023 introduces an exemption from EGL for receipts from electricity generation from new investments in generating stations if the decisive commitment to undertake the project was made on or after 22 November 2023. Three types of project are capable of qualifying: a new generating station; the replacement of generating plant (‘repowering’); and expenditure resulting in increased capacity. The legislation will be included within an upcoming Finance Bill.

New investment condition

An investment will only qualify if “it was reasonable to conclude, having regard to all of the circumstances, that there is a significant likelihood of the project not proceeding” as at 22 November 2023.

HMRC guidance issued alongside the draft legislation indicates that this should generally align with the ‘Final Investment Decision’ but they also set out other factors which may indicate that a substantial decision to proceed has been made, e.g. board commitment, financing commitments, commitment to contracts etc.

Qualifying projects

The exemption will apply to projects that lead to:

  1. A new generating station;
  2. The replacement of generating plant of an existing station provided the whole or substantially the whole of the plant is replaced, i.e. repowering projects; and
  3. An increase in the generating capacity of an existing generating station.

HMRC guidance states that the exemption applies to new generation capacity through repowering, only where it involves the replacement of substantially all of the core generating equipment. An example indicates that the replacement of 25 of 30 turbines in a windfarm may be considered the replacement of ‘substantially’ all of the generating plant.

Where a project enhances the electricity generation capacity of an existing station it is only the additional generation which is treated as exempt. HMRC consider that the qualifying incremental generation should qualify for the exemption where the expansion transcends previous site boundaries, particularly where that involves the acquisition of new land/seabed interests or is subject to separate metering. HMRC distinguish between expenditure on new generation which results in increased megawatt (MW), versus enhancing the efficiency of assets, resulting in an increased output in MW hours or extended planned life. The latter would not qualify. The exemption also does not apply to refurbishment, general repair, maintenance or the replacement of parts as this would be considered part of an existing plan to maintain the plant, not an extension.