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The Stimulus Will Be a Boon to Green Energy

The law, to be signed today, will help renewable-energy businesses and improve efficiency.
February 17, 2009

President Obama is expected to sign the stimulus bill into law today. While there’s been a lot of debate about whether the provisions in the bill are the best way to stimulate the economy–for example, some of the money won’t be spent for years–it’s pretty clear that the bill is good news for businesses involved in reducing the use of fossil fuels.

The New York Times has a detailed breakdown of the final stimulus bill as it relates to energy here. The Wall Street Journal also has a useful graphic that puts that spending into context. The Congressional Budget Office details the costs of the bill over several years here (PDF). And, in a story posted today, I break down how the bill could help kick-start an advanced battery industry in the United States.

In previous blogs, I’ve mentioned two key provisions for renewable energy that were up for debate because of differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. Both made it through.

The first allows businesses that invest in building renewable-energy facilities (such as wind and solar farms) to claim a government grant that covers 30 percent of the investment, rather than claiming a tax credit. The change is important, as many companies can’t claim the credit because they have no tax liability. (The tax credits plus grants are expected to cost the government $14 billion.)

The second is a credit for building manufacturing facilities for renewable energy as well as advanced batteries, which could, for example, encourage solar-panel manufactures to build plants in the United States.

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