In late December, the U.S. House of Representatives approved final passage of the tax bill that includes a one-year extension of the 1603 investment tax credit for developing renewable-energy sources, such as wind and solar power. Republicans and Democrats came together to pass the bill without any amendments, and President Obama signed the bill into law.

Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, thanked lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for extending the investment tax credit, in a statement after the bill’s passage.

“This is a great holiday present for the 85,000 American workers in the wind-energy industry, tens of thousands of whom will now be able to get back to work in a sector that has been a bright spot in the recession so far,” Bode said. “Orders will be on the rise for new wind power, and investors will put more capital into the U.S. economy.”

“We’re already making 20 percent of the electricity in Iowa and have made as much as 25 percent of the electricity in Texas,” Bode said. “We hold the lead in building and expanding our U.S. manufacturing base than most other industries. With the industry expansion this extension will incentivize, we’re going to be making a whole lot more affordable, homegrown electric power in the years to come.”

“The inclusion of renewable energy in the tax bill is a clear indication of strong bipartisan support for the wind industry, which will make more renewable energy than any other technology for decades,” she said.
“As well as cutting taxes for Americans, this bill will ... allow wind energy to continue creating manufacturing and construction jobs in states that desperately need them, like Michigan and Kansas.”

Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) President and CEO Rhone Resch said, in a statement: “It took a year of tireless effort from the entire solar industry and our champions in Congress to get an extension of the 1603 program. President Obama and our bipartisan champions in the Senate and House recognize that the solar industry is one of the fastest growing industries in our country, and this extension will create tens of thousands of new jobs for Americans.

The program was created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Section 1603) to provide commercial solar installations with a cash grant in lieu of the 30 percent solar investment tax credit (ITC). President George W. Bush signed the 8-year ITC into law in 2008, but the economic conditions created by the global recession made it clear that few would be able to use the tax credit.

So far, the treasury grant program has helped move forward more than 1,100 solar projects in 42 states and supported $18 billion in investment. The program is credited as helping the solar industry grow by more than 100 percent in 2010.