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Monday, October 6, 2008

Congress extends tax credits for solar and wind projects

From an article by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

The $700 billion package designed to help the financial industry will result in more Wisconsin homeowners installing solar panels on the roofs of their houses in the years to come, energy industry observers said Friday.

A package of energy tax credits, adopted as part of the bailout deal, will extend for eight years the tax credit for homeowners considering adding solar.

Energy tax credits had been set to expire at the end of the year until they were included in the Wall Street bailout package.

What's significant about the solar credit, industry observers said, is the decision to remove a $2,000 cap on a federal tax credit for installing solar panels.

That means that a typical solar-electric system that costs about $16,000 is now eligible for a 30% tax credit, or $4,800, said Michael Vickerman, executive director of Renew Wisconsin, a Madison group that advocates for renewable energy.

Word that the bill had passed in the House came as visitors toured homes and businesses with solar panels across the state Friday, as part of the annual Solar Tour sponsored by the Midwest Renewable Energy Association. The tours continue today.

In Milwaukee, Ann Beier, head of the Milwaukee Office of Sustainability, heard about the congressional vote during a solar tour stop at Hot Water Products Inc., a distributor of solar-hot water systems.

"It raised the mood quite a bit, because there had been such fits and starts on reinstating these tax credits," said Beier, whose office will kick off the Milwaukee Shines solar-education program this month.

The incentive should boost interest by homeowners in installing solar panels, said Don Wichert, who runs renewable energy initiatives for the state Focus on Energy program.

"With all the stuff that is going on right now with the economy, this is a happening market," he said. "There will not be layoffs in the solar and renewable market for a long time."

Other energy pieces included in the Wall Street bailout package include an extension of wind-energy tax credits for one year.

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