The U.S. Department of Treasury has doled out $502.6 million under a new program to provide grants to renewable energy developers who opt for cash instead of the 30 percent investment tax credit.

The $502 million is going to 12 projects that with a total of 840 megawatts of generation capacities, said Matt Rogers, senior advisor for Recovery Act implementation at the U.S. Department of Energy, during a press conference call. The DOE is helping out with reviewing the technical aspects of the projects.

Rogers said the 12 projects represent a 3 percent increase in the country's renewable energy generation capacity.

So far, the vast majority of that money has gone to wind farm developers, according to the Treasury Department Tuesday. The funding is the first round of funding since the Treasury Department launched the program on July 31. Project investors would get the cash equivalent of the 30 percent tax credit.

The Penascal Wind Farm in Sarita, Texas, has gotten the largest grant so far, at about $114.1 million. Runner up is the Locust Ridge II wind farm in Shenandoah, Penn., which received about $59.2 million, the Treasury Department said (see list of grantees). Iberdola is the developer behind five of the wind farms on the list and is set to get nearly $295 million.

The two solar projects on the list are the Solaire Development in Danbury, Conn., which took $2.6 million, and the Movement Gym PV System in Boulder, Colo., which obtained $157,809. 

A big chunk of the $502 million went to projects in Oregon, New York and Pennsylvania. No projects from California, Arizona or Nevada, the sunny western states with many solar projects under development, received any money this time around.

The program, put in place through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, is meant to provide the much-needed financial help to project developers at a time when banks are skittish about making loans.

The government is proud to point out that it greenlit the first batch of funding in about half the time. The program's rules say qualified project developers would receive the money within 60 days of applying for the money.

The Treasury officials have estimated that the program would provide more than $3 billion overall to roughly 5,000 projects in solar, wind, biomass and other renewable energy generation projects.

There is no cap for the program. It's meant to help projects that are up and running during 2009 and 2010. The government would consider projects that aren't finished by the end of 2010. The guidelines spell out more deadlines. 

The government has received thousands of applications from 35 states since the program began, Rogers said.

The first batch of awards are mostly going to large projects, but the government expects to approve the grants for many more smaller projects, said Dan Tangherlini, assistant secretary for management, at the Treasury Department, during a press conference call.

Image via the DOE.