The 1603 Treasury Grant Program lives to see another day. Late last night Congress passed its major tax-cut deal – and with it extended this cash-in-lieu-of-tax-credit (rolls of the tongue doesn’t it?) program for commercial solar and wind energy systems. President Obama signed the bill into law this afternoon, keeping the TGP, which was set to expire this month, in place for another year. » Read the rest of this entry «
Posted by Annie Carmichael
After such a long drought in federal leadership on renewables, we find ourselves pleasantly surprised by Congress’ newfound love for the sun. Congress just passed an economic recovery package that makes good on Obama’s promise to unleash the economic development engine that is clean energy. Nearly all of the solar provisions on the table made it into the final bill.
The recovery package will immediately spur job creation along each link in the solar supply chain- from PV panel manufacturers to solar hot water system installers. Serious kudos to our hard-working friends at SEIA who traversed the halls of Congress until the 11th hour, and to all of our members who chimed in online to make their voices heard. For more information on the bill check out SEIA’s website.
Friends, quick note- The details of implementation for many of these provisions will be determined in the next few weeks. When we know more about how individuals, companies and states can access these new sources of funding for solar we will post that information on our website.
Solar provisions in the final economic recovery bill:
Renewable Energy Grants: Given the economic downturn, many traditional solar project financiers were left without the tax appetite necessary to put the 30 percent solar tax credit to good use. This provision puts solar finance back on track by offering DOE grants as an alternative to the tax credit. To be eligible for the program, the project must commence construction in 2009 or 2010 and be placed in service by January 1, 2017. Applications must be filed by October 1, 2011.
Repeals Penalty for Municipal Solar Finance Programs: Around the country, cities are implementing innovative finance programs that help residents and businesses go solar without breaking the bank. As the tax code was written, there was some uncertainty as to whether participants in these programs could claim the federal solar tax credit. This provision ensures that businesses and individuals can qualify for the full amount of the solar tax credit, even if projects are financed with local development bonds or other subsidized energy financing.
Loan Guarantee Program: This provision is especially helpful for the development of large-scale solar power plants. It establishes a temporary DOE loan guarantee program for renewable energy and electric power transmission projects. The program is available for any renewable project that commences construction by September 30, 2011.
The program provides $6 billion in renewable funding.
Manufacturing Investment Credit: Everyone wants manufacturing jobs, and this provision will help attract solar manufacturing facilities to the U.S. It provides up to $2.3 billion to fund 30 percent investment tax credit for facilities engaged in the manufacture of advanced energy technologies. Projects must be certified by the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of Energy, through competitive bidding.
Remove Limits on Solar Water Heating: This provision gives solar hot water heaters the same treatment of solar panels. It repeals the $2,000 monetary cap, making solar water heating property eligible for the full 30 percent tax credit.
Government Procurement: We are still tracking down details, but there appears to be multi billions of dollar available for the installation of solar on government buildings, military bases and schools.
Posted by Adam Browning
What was inauguration weekend like? Kind of like Mardi Gras, but with more clothes.
There were millions of people in town, and every one of them in a great mood. The commonality of purpose brought out the kind of camaraderie usually only seen during national calamities–strangers talked to strangers on the Metro, in restaurants, on the streets. For the enviro and cleantech community, a celebratory highlight came the night before the inauguration, at the Green Ball. Vote Solar was on the host committee. To walk the walk, I tried to dress appropriately. My tuxedo, for example, was definitely recycled. It clearly had been to several proms before.
The party was a lot like one of Vote Solar’s parties, except it was held in the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian instead of a nightclub, and there were a lot more famous people. Al Gore, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and Van Jones preached to the largely converted. If you are unfamiliar with Van Jones, you should crawl out from under that rock you call home, and read this profile in the recent New Yorker. I was actually at the meeting Elizabeth Kolbert recounts–while I was reduced to squinting stinkeyes at the fatuous few who hijacked the agenda, Van was somehow able to turn the tables and walk out of there with Speaker Pelosi, fist in the air, chanting “Clean Energy Jobs Now” in front of TV cameras. It was really rather amazing.
I digress. The lineup of musicians was fantastic. Artists included John Legend, Maroon 5, Michael Franti and Will.i.am of Black Eyed Peas fame. As part of her set, Melissa Etheridge drew rousing cheers with the declaration that “you can always tell when a Democrat’s about to take the White House; the parties are better.” While cleantech is of course a bi-partisan issue, I wonder how she knows? Somehow I don’t think she was playing four years ago.
I almost tripped over General Wesley Clark, and saw John Cusack. I asked him for my two dollars, but in true Browning joke tradition, I found myself funnier than he did.
Vote Solar and friends fete our new President Obama. From left: Shaun Chapman, Annie Carmichael, Alexander Rose (The Long Now Foundation), Rosalind Jackson, Gwen Rose, Adam Browning, Polly Shaw (Suntech).