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Treasury grant program for renewable energy projects extended by Congress

December 17, 2010 | 12:55 pm

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