Renewable Energy Tax Credits News Briefs - March 2011

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., introduced a bill to extend the Section 48 renewable energy investment tax credit (ITC) to solar light pipe technology. S. 157 would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide a 30 percent investment credit for solar light pipes. Solar light pipes reduce the amount of electricity needed to produce light by collecting natural light and automatically dimming other lights in a building using sensor technology. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Finance. Section 48 already provides a 30 percent ITC for installation of various energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies including solar panels, fuel cells and small wind turbines. Read the text of S. 157 on www.energytaxcredits.com.

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The Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Commerce agreed to collaborate further on renewable energy modeling and weather forecasting in an effort to increase business and entrepreneur access to the nation's renewable energy resources. The agencies signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to develop and disseminate weather and climate information needed for renewable energy technologies that are dependent on weather and climate trends. A working group from DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and the Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will identify areas for continued focus and research. Both agencies have independently recognized a need for improved meteorological, oceanic and climatological observations, modeling and forecasting to expand the use of renewable energy sources and further integrate them into the grid. View the full text of the MOU at www.noaa.gov.

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Agua Caliente Solar LLC received a conditional commitment for a DOE loan guarantee of as much as $967 million to support the construction of a 290-megawatt solar facility in Arizona. The Agua Caliente Solar project will use thin-film photovoltaic (PV) solar panels and is expected to provide enough electricity for approximately 100,000 homes. NRG Solar, the project sponsor, said the project will be the largest PV generation facility in the world when it is completed. The company estimates that the project will create 400 construction jobs in addition to generating tax revenues. The project will employ fault ride-through and dynamic voltage regulation, technologies that are new to U.S. solar plants. Pacific Gas and Electric will purchase power generated by the project and deliver it to customers in California. More details about the Agua Caliente Solar project are available at www.lpo.energy.gov.

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Invenergy Wind LLC entered into a 10-year agreement to sell 95 percent of the renewable energy tax credits generated by its High Sheldon Wind Farm in Sheldon, N.Y. to the New York State Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). NYSERDA will apply the credits toward the state's renewable portfolio standard (RPS). Each credit represents 1 megawatt-hour of renewable electricity. NYSERDA's RPS program promotes the development of renewable energy resources that will reduce harmful greenhouse gases, increase energy security and help build a clean-energy economy in New York. Invenergy estimates that the 112.5-megawatt High Sheldon Wind Farm produces more than $1.5 million in annual economic benefits to the surrounding community. The farm began commercial operation in 2009.

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A special session of Wisconsin's Legislature did not take up Gov. Scott Walker's regulatory reform bill, which would have tightened restrictions on wind turbine siting. A.B. 9 was the only proposal from Walker that didn't clear the Assembly, The Journal Sentinel reported. The bill called for large wind energy systems to be set back at least 1,800 feet from the nearest property line unless all affected parties agreed in writing. The state's Public Service Commission (PSC) currently requires a setback distance of 1,250 feet from a home and 1.1 times the height of the turbine from a property line. Walker said he plans to continue to pursue a more restrictive wind siting policy by altering the PSC's regulations or adding the language to a regular session bill. Wind energy proponents have said Walker's proposal could cost the state as much as $500 million in investment over the next two years.

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