December 21, 2010

Good News for Energy in 2011 from the New Tax Bill

by: Taz Loomans

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Many of the federal tax benefits for clean energy and energy efficiency were due to come to an end on December 31.  This was bad news for the green economy because these benefits are often what grease the wheels of clean energy and energy efficiency companies.  When these benefits expire, green energy companies suffer, contract or go out of business, taking countless green jobs with them.  Below is a list of 4 items that are seeing a benefit extension for another year which bodes well for the green economy (at least for another year):

  • The Treasury Grant Program, a subsidy for wind and solar projects, has been extended for one year. This benefit started off as a tax credit but was turned into a plain and simple grant because of the recession.  It was anticipated to be converted back into a tax credit on December 31 because we were supposed to be out of the recession by now.  But since this obviously isn’t the case, the grant has been extended for another year.  In Arizona, this is great news for solar companies that were gearing to downsize due to what they thought would be an end of the grant program, but now they can retain their existing staff and possibly hire new staff for the coming year.
  • The new tax bill reinstated a tax credit for biodiesel at $1 per gallon that lapsed at the end of last year.
  • The new tax bill extended the more generous transit benefits for another year which allows employees to use pretax dollars, up to $230 a month, for the expense of commuting by train, bus or van pool.  If they did not extend this benefit, it would have reverted to $120 a month.
  • The tax credit for home energy efficiency that covers energy-efficient doors and windows, insulation, roofs, water heaters, biomass stoves and HVAC equipment has been extended for another year.  It was also due to expire on December 31.  But this particular extension comes with a catch: the credit has been significantly reduced. It used to be you could claim a credit of up to $1500 for all qualifying improvements, but next year you will only be able to claim up to $500.  So if you’re in the market for an energy-saving purchase for your house, you have ten days to act on it to get the maximum tax benefit!

Photo Credit: At the first ever concentrating solar power plant in the country, in our very own state!  Photo from Clean MPG.

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