Renewable Energy Tax Credits - Greener in More Ways Than One
By: Matthew Hick
It’s certainly no secret: the cost of renewable energy production and its implementation can be extremely high. This is the very reason why tax credits are often used to enable renewable energy sources to compete with fossil fuels.
With rising oil and natural gas prices, the war in Iraq and environmental problems centering on global warming and air pollution, our nation is concerned about their energy security and environmental issues. The United States is recognizing the need and power of renewable energy and is supporting its development through federal income tax credits and incentives.
President George Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005 into law on August 8, 2005. It took over four years for Congress to pass after reviewing several different versions. It extended tax credits for wind and biomass energies for two more years and included additional tax credits for solar, geothermal and ocean energy.
Solar tax credits apply to residential and business users. This tax credit would pertain to eligible equipment installed between 1/1/06 and 12/31/08. The equipment installed would include those solar systems that generate electricity, heat and cool or provide hot water to structures. It must also be operational in the first year the credit is taken and the taxpayer must be the original user. The credit is 30% with a $2,000 cap for each unit for residential taxpayers and it is 30% with a no business cap specified for corporate users. After 12/31/08 the corporate tax credit will return to 10%.
The geothermal corporate credit remains at 10% with no maximum stated. This credit does not apply to geothermal heat pumps and is limited to geothermal energy equipment that produces, uses or distributes energy derived from geothermal deposits. A personal tax credit of 10% with a $300 maximum can be taken for geothermal heat pumps.
The federal government also included production tax credits for renewable energies. These credits allow companies to invest in renewable technologies and write the investment off against other investments. This was a major push of support for renewable energy technologies. The credit was extended until December 31, 2008. The credits are 1.9 cents per kWh for wind, geothermal, closed-loop biomass and 1.0 cent per kWh for hydroelectric power, landfill gas, municipal solid waste and open-loop biomass. These pertain to the first ten years of operation
Similar to production tax credits, there were also provisions for renewable energy production “incentives” (REPI) for state and local governments, as well as, nonprofit electrical cooperatives. The enacted law included new qualifying energy generation facilities for solar, wind, biomass (excluding municipal solid waste combustion) landfill gas and certain types of dry steam geothermal energy. It was extended through fiscal year 2016 and also included ocean and wave energy.
These credits will be applied to any amount that remains after any other state or utility incentives have been taken. There are numerous states that do offer incentives also. Some new state incentives include a California state rebate program for photovoltaics, an Illinois state grant program for wind energy, a New Jersey state rebate program for geothermal heat pumps and a Pennsylvania property tax assessment for wind energy. These are just a few of the many state incentives that exist.
The United States government and the individual states are promoting renewable energy sources as an energy source to be encouraged. With all the incentives available, this may be one of the best times to make your air cleaner with a commitment toward this energy. With everyone’s support we can recharge renewable energy’s development.
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