Thursday, October 9, 2008

Congress also bails out wind and solar industries

Tucked inside the $700 billion federal bailout bill for the nation's financial sector is a lifesaver for the renewable energy industry.

For more than a year, the nation's solar and wind lobbies have been fretting that Congress might not extend renewable energy credits before they expire on Dec. 31.

Locally, solar installers have testified before environmental committees in the New Jersey legislature that the industry would collapse without the credit extensions.

Congressional supporters of alternative energy spotted their opportunity when financial markets signaled that a meltdown was approaching and President Bush urged quick action on the bailout bill.

They managed to slip the renewable energy extension provisions, worth an estimated $17 billion, into the bailout bill and Bush, responding to the economic emergency, had no choice but to sign it.

The new law contains:

- An 8-year extension of the residential and business Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for solar, small-wind and geothermal systems

- The elimination of the US $2,000 cap on the residential ITC

- The elimination of the prohibition on utilities from obtaining the ITC

- Authorization of US $800 million for clean energy bonds for renewable energy generating facilities

- A 1-year extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind projects

- A 2-year extension of the PTC for geothermal facilities

- A 2 year ITC for marine energy technologies (tidal, wave, current, ocean thermal)

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