President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law last month. Of the $787 billion being doled out in this stimulus package, in some form or another, a bunch of it is going towards green-related things. But who gets how much and for what? Here is a short excerpt from EcoGeeks. (You don’t’ think I read through all 1,000+ pages of the bill, did you?) Now, some of these incentives are not exactly for us, the individuals, but spending money for clean and renewable energy research and development is a going in the right direction for the planet.
Money For Solar Power: 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. 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.
Tax Credits for A Plug-In Hybrid: If you didn’t have enough reasons to buy a plug-in hybrid already, you can now get up to $7,500 in tax credits if you buy one. Before the stimulus package, this credit was offered for 200,000 cars total – now, it’s being offered for 250,000 cars per manufacturer. There’s also a smaller tax credit for buying electric motorcycles, three-wheeled cars and that sort of thing.
But where can I actually buy a plug-in hybrid? Good question. Maybe this will move things along in that regard.
Green Jobs: Some people are skeptical about green jobs simply appearing out of thin air, despite repeated assurances that they will come. Don’t people need to be trained? Yes, they do and $500 million will be set aside to do just that – set up green job training programs. Teaching people how to build, operate and maintain these technologies is one of the best things we can do for the economy.
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.
Can’t Get A Loan? Ask The Government!: Are you working on a geothermal plant? Maybe solar PV or solar thermal? If you are in the business of generating electricity from renewable sources, you could ask the government for a loan – they have set aside $60 billion for lending to people developing renewable power sources, as well as those working on improving electricity transmission. As with the grants, there is a deadline for these loans – your project must start construction by September 30, 2011.
Production Tax Credits (PTCs): PTCs – where you get tax credits based on how much clean energy you actually produce – is always a great way to, well, motivate people to produce clean energy. Well now the 30% PTC has been extended through 2012 for wind, and through 2013 for electricity derived from biomass, geothermal, hydropower, landfill gas, waste-to-energy, and ocean (think tide/wave power).
Investment Tax Credits: ITCs are where you get tax credit for investing in clean power. $2.3 billion have been set aside to give investors 30% tax credit for investing in renewable technologies. (I wonder if I’d be a candidate if I bought stocks in those type of companies? I’m investing, aren’t I?)
The Government Is Greening Its Own Buildings: $5.5 billion is being given to make federal buildings greener overall, and an estimated 75% of the projects will have some solar component. It’s about time.
Making The Grid Smarter: If you can set up a smart grid demonstration project, the government can reimburse up to 50% of the cost. These projects will be important real-world experiments, and you can bet that the successful projects will be used as templates by the businesses that bring smart grid technology to the masses.
$4.5 billion is being set aside to actually work on the grid itself, which is in need of repair. Overall, about $30 billion is going to advance smart grid technology, improve energy efficiency and develop new battery technology (batteries get about $2 billion).
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.
Batteries: $2 billion in grants for manufacturing advanced batteries for cars and other devices in the United State
Department of Energy
DOE, will be getting $16.8 billion in funding for research. Hopefully Dr. Steven Chu – who, as we all know, loves science – will make sure that the money is spent on only the most promising areas of study.
There’s a lot more in there (again, 1,000+ pages). If you want some good information sources, check out the Greentech Media article as well as this summary from the Solar Energy Industries Association.