Bailout Bill Big Win For Wind, Hybrids and Solar

Passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush, the bailout legislation includes a $17 billion energy tax package; a big win for solar, wind and hybrids.

Here’s a summary of articles on the topic with links to the publishers and their full stories: Bailout Bill Benefits Wind and Solar Power Companies.

The general public may not be thrilled with the $700 billion “financial rescue” package that the House approved and President Bush signed Friday, but the alternative energy industry cheered its passage because the legislation includes renewals of tax breaks that company executives had worried would expire at the end of the year. The biggest winner is certainly solar. As Scott Sklar, former head of the Solar Energy Industries Association and now President of the Stella Group summarizes:

This package extends the 30-percent federal investment tax credit for both residential and commercial solar, small wind, ground-coupled heat pumps installations from 4 – 8 years. This bill also completely eliminates the $2,000 monetary cap for residential solar electric installations. This bill also provides a incentive tax credit (ITC) for water energy applications
(tidal, wave, and ocean currents and thermal) and combined heat and power. The federal production tax credit was extened for biomass power, geothermal and wind energy as well.

Also according to, the 8-year extension of the ITC is a crucial step in ensuring the success in this country of one of the most critical climate solutions – solar baseload or concentrated stored thermal electric, which the solar industry considers one of the single most important issues the federal government needs to address for stable growth.

Plug in hybrids also benefit from the bailout package as reported by the Green Car Congress:

The credit is a base $2,500 plus $417 for each kWh of battery pack capacity in excess of 4 kWh, to a maximum of $7,500 for light-duty vehicles; $10,000 for vehicles with gross vehicle weights of more than 10,000 but less than 14,000 pounds; $12,500 for vehicles with a GVW of more than 14,000 but less than 26,000 pounds; and $15,000 for any vehicle with a GVW of more than 26,000 pounds.

Phaseout of the credit is to begin after the total number of qualified PHEVs in the US sold after 31 December 2008 is at least 250,000.

Qualifying vehicles must have a battery pack with at least 4 kWh of capacity–a provision that will preclude the inclusion of the first generation of Toyota PHEVs as well, potentially, as other lower all-electric range plug-ins. This is a heck of a kickstart for plug-in hybrids, especially since $1 billion has been set aside for this tax credit. The Electric Drive Transportation Association also reports “The credit is available against the alternative minimum tax,” which is very good news. That means the upscale first buyers of this $45,000 car will actually be able to take advantage of this credit (see here).

Lots of other clean technologies benefited. For instance, “The measure increases the tax credit limitation for fuel cells from $500 to $1,500 per half kilowatt of capacity.” Frankly, $500 was the equivalent of doing nothing, whereas $1,500 may actually make some stationary fuel cells competitive. Geothermal
heat pumps
and cogeneration systems both get a well-deserved new 10% ITC.

DailyKos: A comprehensive article on the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (the “Bailout Plan”).