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Treasury grant program for renewable energy projects extended by Congress

Solar The 1603 Treasury grant program -– a popular government incentive for renewable energy projects -– was extended Thursday night as Congress passed a major tax cut deal.

The measure, which covers up to 30% of the cost of solar, wind and other alternative energy installations, was considered a key buffer for the industry during the recession. It was due to expire at the end of the year.

Smaller startups and companies were especially pleased with the renewal, which President Obama is expected to sign by Friday afternoon.

“It gives renewable energy a lot more flexibility in designing transactions and investment structures,” said Matt Haskins, who leads the sustainable business solutions tax practice for PricewaterhouseCoopers. “An additional year of eligibility is going to help get some additional projects under construction.”

It’s been a busy week for renewable energy. In addition to the Treasury grant extension, California regulators approved a feed-in tariff model and moved toward implementing a cap-and-trade program. U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced research that identified swaths of western public lands that would be ideal for large solar projects. The solar industry released a slew of data pointing to healthy growth and stiff competition from Asia.

Read more at the Times' Technology blog.

-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: An array of cell modules produced by Solyndra Inc. atop the company's manufacturing facility in Fremont. Credit: Ken James/Bloomberg

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This is no doubt right and very needed step took by congress. Hope there would be long term outcomes by this project.

wow. just read the piece about how WE are no longer allowed tax credits for energy efficiency upgrades, either, so that the taxpayers can keep cutting HUGE checks to BP, Chevron, Google and Goldman Sachs. UNBELIEVABLE.

so real people not only get screwed on the tax credits for solar panels but now we get screwed on the tax credits for efficiency, but multibillionaire Big Energy companies get massive welfare for killing our wilderness and monopolizing our sunshine and wind.

this country is insane.

We need funding for renewable energy infrastructure for existing technologies as well as research in new technologies that improve efficiency and better suit our needs. The reality is that even though we may not be literally running out of oil, we are running out of easily accessible oil. Does it make sense to spend billions of dollars to drill a mile into the earth's crust for a non-renewable resource that we consume at an alarming rate? Does it make sense to drill two miles? Three? Eventually we will reach a point where the cost of extracting oil will outweigh the profits and extraction will cease, but of course deposits will still exist somewhere. This is what politicians and big business means when they say we are not running out of oil.

Considering that the majority of our research and manufacturing processes run on fossil fuels, it is in our best interest to invest in renewable energy while we still can. If petroleum becomes scarce and we haven't looked into renewables, we would have no energy left to to any substantial new building, manufacturing, or research. A sudden switch to nuclear, solar, wind, etc. would become impossible lacking the energy to build power plants or farms on a large scale. Society would revert to a pre-fossil fuels stage, resulting in a massive population collapse (think about the energy it takes to pump water to dry areas and standard modern farming practices that employ a variety of machines). Based on simple statistics, you and your descendents would probably not be lucky enough to survive.

More Grants and BS money pouring into the pockets of bureaucrats and Administrators rather than real renewable projects.

With all the subsidy and free money poured into solar ... I've seen very little of it here in California. Here and there a school or public building might spend a few hundred thousand for a few hundred watts ... ridiculous.

Reasons why "Green Initiatives" will fail-

1. The costs and pricing. It is cheaper to use petroleum and natural gas, than solar panels.

2. Solar panels work in areas of the nation, which can maximize their usage.

3. As "Paul Taylor Examiner" pointed out, there was once a flood of Hi-Tech defense jobs, in the Los Angeles area. People were not only paid great wages, but had an opportunity to learn new skills, from their employer.

4. The Los Angeles manufacturing and assembly facilities have been decimated, because of "environmental rules" based upon a hoax science called "Global Warming." it has even got the State legislature doing it's own "Cap & Trade" taxation scheme, which will push even more industries out of state resulting in job losses.

5. Labor costs. How do you tell an engineer that has been working for $40-$50/hr, that he can now get a $7.50 - $10/hour job, no benefits and now he is assembling solar panels? It isn't happening.

Let's face it. Obama is TOAST. He's a LAME DUCK.

Jerry Brown isn't going to "save the day." A new Congress is coming in on 5 January and the teat runs dry. Until California gets their priorities straight, like taking care of it's citizens and businesses and not foreign nationals that are here illegally, California and Los Angeles shall be headed down the road of bankruptcy.

California has been a study in economic boom-and-bust cycles. Its fortunes owed to its perfect climate, educated citizenry, world-famous creative class and vast natural resources. However, its fortunes have been squandered by bloated government, choking regulations, unsustainable welfare and pension payouts and, as the premiere American economic engine, its susceptibility to nation and international financial crises.

During the 20th Century, California was fortunate to have waves of successful agriculture and oil businesses, then defense industries, then aerospace manufacturing, and dotcom companies to moderate economic downturns. In addition, California has been blessed with the massive wealth generator of commercial and residential real estate development that is now failing.

Today with record unemployment (above 12.5%), with state government carrying chronic deficits above 20%, state worker pension liabilities projected at one-half trillion dollars, and California burdened with one-third of the nation’s welfare recipients, the worst is yet to come. Moreover, as California environmental regulations have been politicized as a means of wealth redistribution or fetishistic “green” symbolism, the dubious progressive promise of a “new green economy” is supposed to rescue California from further unemployment and financial ruin.

Problem is, nowhere in the world is “green” enterprise prospering or even surviving without generous government subsidies. In the U.S., the “Obama Stimulas” payments that have propped up state governments and their unions will soon run out. Some economists have predicted that one in five states (including California) will default on municipal bond payments due to insolvency in six months time.

California’s environmental services sector of engineers, planner, scientists and lawyers that operate under environmental regulations and government processes to enable growth and development in commercial, industrial and residential enterprise has been gutted during now three-years of economic recession. This service sector that grew and prospered along with each expansion of environmental regulations, and the government enforcements thereof, over the last 30 years is collapsing.

In the last three years I’ve observed well-known California enviro-service providers go from 80 employees in 6 state-wide offices, to bankruptcy, losses of 60% in clientele and greater in revenues. Even the more-essential engineering and sciences firms have seen staff reductions of 80% or more – few are hiring. These losses are backed up by records of California State environmental regulatory agency filings of environmental application and disclosure reports. According to the California Office of Planning Research (ORP) data base, the number of “environmental impact reports” (EIRs) processed in California peaked at 649 in 2006, and have declined precipitously to 450 in 2010. This 31% drop in EIRs is also accompanied by a 41% drop in ”notices of preparation” (NOPs). NOPs are a leading indicator of development interest or intensity. A simple projection of these declines in development since 2006 peaks indicates that California enviro-service providers will likely see minimum losses of 10 to 12% in 2011.

Too bad. All this money flowing to Chevron, BP, Google and other Big Energy billionaires could have actually IMPROVED the environment by flowing to REAL PEOPLE who want to install solar on their rooftops.

Why does Google need a cash incentive instead of a tax credit anyhow? Oh, right, because they only pay 2% income taxes. Well, by all means, if they already have hundreds of billions of dollars and don't pay any taxes, it is critical that we hand them billions more of our hard-earned cash to make sure they kill our wilderness for energy instead of allowing us to install on our rooftops.

To be clear, none of this money will help the environment or the economy. PACE loans, cash grants and Feed in Tariffs would mean dozens of GW of clean, non-deadly, democratically-owned power that didn't kill our endangered species and emit huge amounts of GHGs. Instead, Chevron gets another check for killing our planet for money.

Oh, and local solar creates twice as many jobs as Big Solar, while improving property values and local economies. Big Solar pulls money out of communities and destroys local economies.

Heck of a job, congress.

Last I heard, the alt energy sector was producing more new jobs at a faster rate than any other. Still a small sector, so thats why it a boost (similar to what oil got back in the day it was new and somehow still gets).

Some other extracongressional schemes include EPA setting stricter carbon standards for gasoline, rolling back federal subsidies for oil and gas development, slashing tax breaks and royalty waivers for energy industries. Our Federal government has been subsidizing alternative energies at the rate of about $8 billion per year since the failed Carter Administration. If the dozens of alternative energy pilot projects could survive and cost-compete with conventional energies, they would not need government subsidies.

Climate science remains unsettled. The unpredictable interactions and ultimate atmospheric fates of clouds and aerosols stand in the way of reliable global warming cause-and-effect findings. Truth is, unless and until a cost/benefit analysis can be agreed upon, and world oil prices stay above $80 per barrel, no responsible nation (or state) should self-inflict the higher energy prices that necessarily attach to climate regulations -- especially during economic recession. Climate control costs are known. The benefits are unknown.

As an employee within the solar industry I can say with some certainty that this will help many renewable energy projects move forward in the coming year. I wish it would have passed on its own but happy it made it none the less.

Popular Program????????? With who? Most people don't have a clue what it is, nor do they understand that these renewable energy sources are being funded by their tax dollars. I have not heard, or seen anything that leads me to believe that these efforts will ever result in lower energy costs for the average citizen.
These efforts are only economical to the generators when traditional fuels, Gasoline, Oil, and Natural Gas rise in price. And, who bears the brunt of that? Us, the little people.


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