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Commercial solar's federal grant option

With all the buzz surrounding President Obama's stimulus package--energy efficiency tax credits, a cap-and-trade pollution credit system, tax hikes to the very wealthy, all very chat-worthy stuff--one imporant provision may have escaped your notice. Commercial solar panel installations received a boost when, in the fall of 2008, the federal investment tax credit (ITC) equal to 30% of a solar system's costs was extended for another eight years. In a move designed to encourage movement in an economy where investors are hesitant even about something as attractive as large-scale solar, the stimulus package offers a sweet deal: for commercial solar installations during the next two years, owners can choose between the standard ITC and an actual cash grant of the same value. The grant offer is good for a range of technologies, as is the ITC itself: wind, geothermal, microturbines, CHP, biomass, and more.

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