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Cityscape: Volume 24 Number 1 | An Evaluation of the Impact and Potential of Opportunity Zones


An Evaluation of the Impact and Potential of Opportunity Zones

Volume 24 Number 1

Mark D. Shroder
Michelle P. Matuga

Tax Cuts, Jobs, and Distributed Energy: Leveraging Opportunity Zones for Equitable Community Solar in the D.C. Region

Sara Harvey

Federally designated Opportunity Zones(OZs) can serve a key function in meeting the United States’ climate and energy goals while spurring economic growth and upward mobility for low-income groups. However, the unclear eligibility criteria and cross-jurisdictional nature of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act complicates its implementation when maximizing co-benefits is a priority. This capstone seeks to capture the ways in which federally designated OZs can be utilized to achieve equity-focused clean energy outcomes in the Washington, D.C.-Maryland-Virginia region. In the few years since the legislation was implemented, jurisdictions have tested its boundaries to create additional positive outcomes for constituents and the natural environment. Utilizing existing climate plans and clean energy infrastructure in the District of Columbia (D.C.) as a case study, the author argues that Opportunity Zones can and should serve as a vehicle to achieve our region’s climate goals. This article recommends policy changes to resolve barriers to entry and encourage community-invested solar projects that reduce utility costs, create jobs, and provide value to investors.

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