President Obama made the $787 billion stimulus package official with his signature Tuesday. The package comes with goodies for solar, wind, smart grid, plug-in hybrid cars and other types of greentech businesses.
Obama showed up in Denver to sign the bill. "We are laying the ground work for a green energy economy that can create countless green jobs. We will transform the way we use energy," he said.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will set up a program to provide roughly $60 billion worth of loan guarantees to offset the costs of manufacturing renewable energy equipment, developing renewable power projects and building electric transmission lines, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (see SEIA's summary of the package for all renewable energy sectors).
A 30 percent investment tax credit will be available for companies that make equipment for renewable energy systems, energy storage equipment, smart grid, energy-efficient lighting, electric transmission and distribution and carbon capture and sequestration (see House Speaker Pelosi's list of incentives).
Here are some other provisions:
Solar: Grants will be available, instead of a tax credit, for offsetting 30 percent of the cost of installing a solar energy system at a business. Large-scale solar plants, often developed to sell power to utilities, also are eligible. This applies only to systems that are installed in 2009 and 2010. Projects that began before the end of 2010 and put in service by Jan. 1, 2017 also qualify. The U.S. Department of Treasury will still need to work out the details of the program.[UPDATE: The cash provision does not apply to home installations.]
Consumers who buy qualified solar water heating systems can claim a one-time tax credit that equals 30 percent of the cost of a system. Previously, this tax credit had a cap of $2,000.
Wind: The production tax credit has been extended through 2012. Last October, Congress extended the credit by only one year. Wind energy developers also can opt for the 30 percent investment tax credit to offset the cost of installing a wind farm, instead of getting the production tax credit.
Businesses that operate small-wind projects can get a true 30 percent tax credit during the year the projects are put in service, instead of a tax credit that was capped at $4,000.
Smart Grid: The government could reimburse as much as 50 percent of the costs of carrying out smart grid demonstration projects. It also has set aside $4.5 billion for electric grid improvements, including the use of demand-response equipment; the money also will be used to carry out energy storage research and deployment.
Electric Transmission: The Western Area Power Administration and the Bonneville Power Administration will be able to borrow $3.25 billion each to build transmission lines. The two federal organizations operate transmission systems that serve the western half of the United States.
Fuel-Efficient Cars: A tax credit of up to $7,500 for buying a plug-in hybrid electric car. The new law expands the previous legislation, making the tax credit available to 200,000 cars per manufacturer, instead of 250,000 for the whole car industry. A lower tax credit will be available to buyers of neighborhood electric cars, electric motorcycles and three-wheeled electric cars.
Energy Efficient Federal Buildings: A $5.5 billion program to fund to make federal buildings more energy efficient, including installing solar energy systems.
Alternative Fueling Stations: A 50 percent tax credit, instead of the previous 30 percent tax credit, for gas stations or other businesses that install alternative fueling pumps that dispense E85 fuel, electricity and natural gas. There is a cap of $50,000 per installation project. Hydrogen fueling stations would get the usual 30 percent tax credit, but the cap has been increased to $200,000 instead of $30,000. All these tax credit increases will be available only for installations that take place in 2009 and 2010.
Energy-Efficient Homes: Consumers can get a 30 percent tax credit for buying certain heating and cooling equipment for existing homes. The purchases will have to be made in 2009 and 2010.
Batteries: $2 billion in grants for manufacturing advanced batteries for cars and other devices in the United States.