The word out of Washington late this week was that senators and the Obama Administration have agreed on a plan to extend the U.S. Treasury Department's Treasury Grant Program for another year.
As it stands, the program gives a 30 percent cash rebate to commercial developers of renewable energy systems. The program was initially a 30 percent tax credit before the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 turned it in to a cash incentive. The possibility of the program reverting back to a cash incentive on January 1st lit a fire under the leaders of the U.S. clean energy industry, who credit the cash version of the program with jump-starting thousands of clean energy projects throughout the country.
With the economy still not at full strength, these leaders began tirelessly lobbying Congress to extend the cash grant, saying that many planned projects can't be built without it because they won't have sufficient financial backing. Consequently, tens of thousands of renewable energy jobs would be in danger.
As of a month ago, it was unlikely that the lame-duck congress would have enough clout to extend the program. But extensive lobbying by industry leaders like the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and key house democrats like Montana's Max Baucus, Iowa's Tom Harkin and North Dakota's Kent Conrad pushed congress into action.
While not official, the measure is expected to pass during a vote this coming Monday as part of a revised compromise tax bill. Here are list of energy related measures that are included in the bill, courtesy of Brighter Energy:
- The start-of-construction deadline for the cash grant in lieu of tax credit program, established in Section 1603 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
- The current per-gallon tax credits and outlay payments for ethanol as well as the existing 54 cents per gallon tariff on imported ethanol and related 22.67 cents per gallon tariff on ETBE.
- The dollar-per-gallon production tax credits for biodiesel and for diesel fuel created from biomass, as well as the 10 cents-per-gallon small agri-biodiesel producer credit.
- The credit for manufacturers of energy-efficient residential homes.
- The Section 45M credit for US-based manufacture of energy-efficient clothes washers, dishwashers and refrigerators.
As soon as the vote takes place next Monday, GetSolar will give you the final tally. You can find out more about the benefits the grant extension will bring to the renewable energy industry here.