DURHAM – Wolfspeed is stepping up its efforts to land federal funds to help underwrite the costs of its new semiconductor plant in Chatham County and ongoing expansion of its chip production in Durham by appealing directly to the Internal Revenue Service.
Confirming a report in the Triangle Business Journal on Tuesday, the Durham-based company said it is hoping the IRS will rule favorably in allowance of funds from the so-called CHIPS and Science Act that was signed into law last August for silicon carbide production – Wolfspeed’s specialty – as well as traditional silicon chips.
Some $100 billion is available through the CHIPS act, and the federal government has used that windfall to help land several chip firms for expansion in the U.S.
“There are two parts of CHIPS Act,” Wolfspeed notes. “The Department of Commerce grants, that the [John Palmour plant] qualifies for, and the Department of Treasury Investment Tax Credit, which is what the letter was responding to. So we are still anticipating that we will apply for and receive Chips Act funding for the capital grants, and then hopeful that the 48D language will be updated to include semiconductor materials.”
Wolfspeed noted that a proposed regulation about use of federal dollars “excludes essential semiconductor-grade material production facilities” such as its planned $5 billion “mega-facility” being constructed in Siler City. The IRS is in the process of preparing CHIPS guidelines for what types of projects are funded.
“The demand for silicon carbide is rapidly increasing across several markets, including the automobile, industrial and energy sectors. To meet this steepening demand and ease supply chain constraints, Wolfspeed remains focused on our expansion projects in Durham and Siler City and meeting the anticipated construction completion dates for the respective facilities,” Wolfspeed said in a statement, responding to a media inquiry from WRAL Tech Wire. “The company has already commenced prepping the John Palmour Manufacturing Center for Silicon Carbide site in Siler City and is on schedule for construction.”
The Center, which is planned to be the world’s largest for silicon carbide, is named after one of Wolfspeed’s original founders – John Palmour – who died recently.
“We are hopeful the Treasury Department will work expeditiously to finalize the regulations in order to provide clarity on the investment tax credits available to companies like Wolfspeed who are investing to support American jobs, economic and national security, resilient domestic supply chains, and sustainability,” Wolfspeed added in the statement.
In the letter, a copy of which was provided to WRAL TechWire, Bradley Kohn, who is senior vice president and legal counsel for Wolfspeed, noted comments made recently by President Biden. Biden visited Wolfspeed’s facilities in Durham.
“They make wafers need to … power everyday lives,” Biden said.
Kohn told the IRS: “[W]e strongly encourage the agency to give a full, careful, and thorough consideration to Silicon Carbide material.”
Wolfspeed also makes several recommendations regarding language for guidelines on funding.
“Wolfspeed stands ready to move at the speed and scale required to support American jobs, economic and national security, resilient domestic supply chains and sustainability,” Kohn added.