Dr. Elikplim Kwabla Apetorgbor

In the dynamic landscape of deregulated electricity markets, Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) serve as foundational documents that define the terms of electricity transactions between generators and purchasers.

These agreements intricately detail pricing, obligations, and rights, leaving no room for ambiguity.

However, one common misconception in some discussions surrounding PPAs, in some quarters, suggests embedding corporate income tax within the negotiated tariff of the Independent Power Power Producers was meant for the revenue authorities PPA.

In this article, it has become imperative to shed light on why this practice is not only unfeasible but also incompatible with the established norms of deregulated electricity markets, supported by industry references and best practices.

  1. PPAs: The Backbone of Deregulated Electricity Markets

PPAs are contracts that establish the framework for electricity transactions, offering price certainty and defining responsibilities for all stakeholders. They are crafted to promote transparency, efficiency, and fairness in the marketplace, ensuring that generators and purchasers can operate with confidence and predictability.

  1. Corporate Income Tax:

A Distinct Obligation. It is an obligatory financial commitment imposed by governments on companies’ profits. It is entirely separate from the core transactional aspects covered by a PPA. The complexities that arise from attempting to embed corporate income tax into a PPA tariff are numerous and industry practice firmly discourages such an approach.

  1. Tax Rates Fluctuate:

Tax rates are subject to change due to legislative decisions, economic shifts, and political dynamics. Embedding a fixed tax rate into a PPA does not account for these fluctuations, potentially exposing one party to unintended financial consequences (Wilkinson, 2018).

  1. Double Counting Conundrum:

Incorporating corporate income tax into the PPA tariff may lead to double counting, as both the generator and the purchaser have their distinct tax obligations unrelated to the PPA terms. This redundancy complicates tax accounting and introduces avoidable confusion (Miller, 2017).

  1. Regulatory Compliance:

Each jurisdiction has its own unique regulations and guidelines governing tax reporting and payment. Embedding tax in a PPA tariff would necessitate a careful examination of compliance with these intricate tax rules, imposing additional administrative and regulatory burdens (EY, 2020).

  1. Potential for Disputes:

Deregulated markets thrive on transparent and equitable contractual arrangements. Introducing corporate income tax into the PPA tariff raises the specter of disputes concerning accounting methodologies with regards to the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), IAS 12, chargeable income and capital allowance, tax rates, deductions, exemptions, and methodologies (Gibbs, 2019).

  1. Disturbance to Risk Allocation:

PPAs are carefully structured to allocate various risks between generators and purchasers, including market price fluctuations and operational contingencies. Embedding corporate income tax into the tariff disrupts this risk allocation framework, potentially shifting tax-related risks onto the wrong party (Barbose et al., 2018).

  1. Tax Efficiency and Flexibility:

Corporate income tax rates and regulations can change over time due to legislative decisions, economic conditions, or political factors. Embedding a fixed tax rate in a PPA would lack flexibility to adapt to changes, potentially leading to disputes and financial inefficiencies.

  1. A Separation of Concerns:

In the world of deregulated electricity markets, clarity, transparency, and adaptability are paramount. The notion of embedding corporate income tax into the negotiated tariff of a PPA runs counter to these principles. Instead, it is wiser and more efficient to treat corporate income tax as a distinct financial obligation, one that complies with tax laws and regulations while respecting the sanctity of PPA agreements.

This separation allows generators and purchasers to navigate tax complexities within an ever-evolving regulatory landscape, fostering smoother and fairer transactions in deregulated electricity markets.

Cost-Recovery Principle in PPAs:

One of the fundamental principles underlying PPAs is the cost-recovery principle. This principle allows generators to recover their legitimate operating costs, thereby ensuring the financial viability of power projects. These recoverable costs typically include fuel expenses, operation, and maintenance costs, as well as capital expenditures.

Corporate Income Tax:

Corporate income tax is considered a legitimate cost of doing business in many jurisdictions, including those with deregulated electricity markets. It is an obligatory financial commitment imposed on companies’ profits, representing a significant portion of a generator’s expenses (Lumen, 2021).

In many cases, corporate income tax is not typically considered a direct cost-recovery item within the electricity tariff of an Independent Power Producer (IPP) in the power generation sector.

The electricity tariff typically covers the costs associated with the construction, operation, and maintenance of the power generation facility, as well as a return on investment for the IPP.

Corporate income tax is generally paid by the IPP on its profits to the government. It is a tax obligation that falls under the broader financial responsibilities of the IPP but is typically not recovered directly from electricity consumers through the tariff.

In some cases, there may be tax incentives or arrangements that affect how corporate income tax is factored into the tariff structure. Additionally, while corporate income tax is not usually a direct cost-recovery item within the tariff, the overall financial health of the IPP, including its tax obligations, can indirectly influence tariff decisions, as it can affect the IPP’s profitability, financial viability, and ability to provide a stable and reliable supply of electricity.




Source: Dr. Elikplim Kwabla Apetorgbor (Power Systems Economist & CEO of Independent Power Generators, Ghana)