Thursday, October 09, 2008

DOE Details New Clean Energy Tax Incentives

Oct 8: The Department of Energy (DOE) has posted information on the clean energy tax incentives contained in the $700 billion Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (H.R. 1424, now Public Law No: 110-343), signed by the President on October 3, 2008 [See WIMS 10/3/08]. The Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008, which was attached to H.R. 1424, provides a one-year extension of the production tax credit (PTC) for wind energy, keeping the credit in effect through 2009. The bill also provides a two-year PTC extension, through 2010, for electricity produced from geothermal, biomass, and solar energy facilities, as well as trash-to-energy facilities, small hydropower facilities using irrigation water, capacity additions to existing hydropower plants, and hydropower facilities added to existing dams. In addition, the bill creates a new PTC for electricity produced by marine and hydrokinetic renewable energy systems (also called advanced water power systems) with a rated capacity of at least 150 kilowatts and placed in service by 2011. To help on the financing end, the bill authorizes $800 million in new Clean Renewable Energy Bonds for all of the above technologies.

According to the DOE release, Solar energy gained an 8-year extension (through 2016) of the 30% tax credit for residential and commercial solar installations, as well as the elimination of the $2,000 tax credit cap for residential solar electric installations. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) expects the creation of more than 440,000 jobs and the generation of at least $325 billion in private investment due to those changes, which should yield more than 28 gigawatts of solar power. The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) also sees huge potential growth in a measure that allows electric utilities to take advantage of these tax credits.

In addition, small wind power gained a 30% tax credit, up to $4,000 for wind turbines with capacities of 100 kilowatts or less, which is also good through 2016. The tax credits for fuel cells and microturbines are also extended by 8 years, and the fuel cell tax credit limit is tripled, to $1,500 for each 0.5 kilowatts of capacity. The act also creates a new 10% tax credit for certain combined heat and power systems and for geothermal heat pumps (up to $2,000). In addition, the bill also provides accelerated depreciation for utilities installing smart meters and smart grid systems.

In terms of energy efficiency and alternative fuels, the act extends and revives a number of energy efficiency tax incentives for buildings, creates new tax credits for efficient vehicles, and extends and modifies tax credits for biofuels. The release details numerous provisions in this section including a new tax credit of up to $7,500 for plug-in hybrid vehicles, which are expected to go on sale in 2010; a new $300 tax credit for energy-efficient biomass fuel stoves; an extension of energy efficiency tax deductions for commercial buildings through 2013; and more. The release also includes links to related press release from the Solar Electric Power Association, Solar Energy Industries Association, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, and National Biodiesel Board.

Access the DOE release and links to related information (
click here). Access legislative details for H.R. 1424 with links to the roll call votes (click here). Access a 7-page Senate Finance Committee staff detailed summary of the Energy-related provisions of the Energy and Tax Extenders Act of 2008 (click here). [*Energy]