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Renewable Energy Tax Credits News Briefs - February 2012

The Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) developed a new online geospatial application that allows users to map potential renewable energy resources in the United States. The interactive tool, RE Atlas, is designed to facilitate energy policy development, investment and education. The tool creates dynamic maps of renewables, including biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar and wind. Access the NREL site.


The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) seeks comments on developing regulations for competitive leasing of solar and wind energy on public lands. The agency published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking to give the public background information on BLM's interest in establishing an efficient process for issuing right-of-way leases. BLM said it intends to evaluate ways to establish competitive bidding procedures for lands within designated solar and wind energy development leasing areas, define qualifications for potential bidders, and structure the necessary financial arrangements. Comments must be submitted by February 27. See the December 29 Federal Register notice for more information.


The Department of the Interior (DOI) approved two utility-scale renewable energy projects that will generate nearly 500 megawatts (MWs) of power when completed and create 700 jobs during the peak of construction. The two projects that received approval are the 300-MW Sonoran Solar Energy Project in Maricopa County, Ariz., the first-ever project approved for construction on public lands in Arizona, and the 186-MW Tule Wind Project, located on public lands east of San Diego, Calif. DOI Secretary Salazar also announced the first major step in developing an offshore wind transmission line on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf. Atlantic Grid Holdings LLC has requested a right-of-way grant to develop a high-voltage direct current line that would collect power generated by wind turbine facilities off the coasts of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, enabling up to 7,000 MWs of power to be delivered to the grid. The Bureau of Ocean Management has opened a public comment period on the proposal's potential environmental effects. More information on the projects is available at


The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GTM Research reported that in the third quarter of 2011, the United States solar industry installed a record new solar electric capacity of 449 MWs. The report, titled "U.S. Solar Market Insight: 3rd Quarter 2011," shows a 140 percent increase in installed capacity over the same quarter in 2010. SEIA attributes the growth to utility-scale project completions, a strong residential market, the dropping price of solar panels and the Section 1603 grant program. If the Section 1603 program is not renewed for 2012, the report predicts a tax equity bottleneck for projects in 2012, which SEIA said could lead to a slowdown in installations in late 2012 and into 2013. View an executive summary of the report at


A Department of Defense (DOD) official announced a policy change that may increase the military's flexibility to enter into power purchase agreements (PPAs) for renewable energy projects at military installations. Dorothy Robyn, DOD's deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment, said that she now has the authority to approve new 30-year PPAs, a responsibility that was previously limited to the Secretary of Defense.


Google invested in a portfolio of solar photovoltaic systems serving the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) in Sacramento, Calif. Developed by Recurrent Energy, the four solar projects will provide SMUD with 88 MWs of power. Construction on three of the projects is expected to be complete early this year; when the fourth comes online later in the year, the projects are expected to generate a combined 160,000 megawatt-hours in their first year of operation. The portfolio is being financed with a combination of debt and equity, including a significant equity investment from Google in addition to equity from SunTap Energy RE LLC, a new venture formed by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. LP.

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Renewable Energy Tax Credits



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