Congress extends renewable energy grant program

Tax credits that reduce the cost of renewable energy projects were renewed by Congress last night. Industry groups believe that it will lead to further job creation and a new surge of clean power into the grid.

GE, one of the world's largest manufacturers of wind turbines, believes that 24% of New England's electricity will be powered by wind within a decade.

With the passage of the tax cut compromise last night, Congress has extended popular renewable energy grant programs for another year. Industry groups expressed optimism that the program will help drive continued growth in the energy sector.

The 1603 Treasury grant program was originally part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The grants help cover the cost of new projects by up to 30 percent, and helped attract $18 billion in new investment over the past two years, according to the New York Times.

The program is estimated to have added more than 11 gigawatts of renewable power into the U.S. energy grid, which is equivalent to all renewable energy development over the past few decades combined. Development has increased so much so that GE Energy Applications & Systems Engineering has concluded that a quarter of New England's power will be generated by wind within a decade.

The renewable energy industry lobbied hard for a continuation of 1603, and expects it to have a stimulative effect on the marketplace.

“Orders will be on the rise for new wind power, and investors will put more capital into the U.S. economy because of what happened in Congress last night,” said Denise Bode, chief executive of the American Wind Energy Association said in a prepared statement.

Solar Energy Industries Association president and CEO Rhone Resch credited Congress for passing the extensions, saying that it would create tens of thousands of jobs for Americans.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com