U.S. Senate Passes Stimulus Bill: Solar Still In Play

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Following the U.S. House of Representatives' approval of an $820 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 late last month, the U.S. Senate yesterday passed its $838 billion version of the stimulus package with a vote of 61-37.

The House and Senate are now reconciling the pieces of legislation to arrive at a compromise, with the hope of delivering a bill to President Barack Obama by the end of the week.

‘We applaud Senate leaders for crafting and passing a bill to quickly stimulate our failing economy,’ commented Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). ‘President Obama has issued bold challenges to America: create jobs immediately and double renewable energy production in three years.
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‘Building upon the recent eight-year extension of solar tax credits, the economic stimulus package includes key solar priorities that give us the tools to meet both challenges,’ he added.

Specifically, Resch noted that the SEIA is pushing House and Senate leaders to preserve a number of provisions directly related to solar.

Primary among these provisions is a new renewable energy grant program intended to serve as an alternative to tax credits. Through the program, the U.S. Department of Energy will offer grants equal to 30% of a solar project's cost, if the system is placed in service during 2009 or 2010.

Other provisions include an allowance for the federal government to enter into 30-year power purchase agreements (instead of the now-standard 10 years), the elimination of the penalty for subsidized financing for solar projects, the creation of a new loan guarantee program and a 30% investment tax credit for companies that manufacture renewable energy property or equipment.

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