Obama Considers $25 Billion for Renewable Energy as Part of Stimulus

Includes: FAN, PBW, PZD, TAN
by: Greentech Media

By Ucilia Wang

The incoming president appears close to finalizing his economic stimulus plan, which for the greentech industry means more tax credits and possibly cash for renewable energy developers and producers.

Obama’s advisors are looking at including as much as $25 billion in tax credits to boost renewable energy production, plug-in hybrid cars and biofuels, reported the Washington Post. That’s more than what Obama had in his plan when he ran it by Congressional leaders last week.

The incoming president initially called for a two-year, $775 billion plan to energize the economy. But his fellow party members in Congress said the plan wouldn’t go far enough to do the job.

In a speech to tout his economic stimulus plan, Obama said he wanted measures in place to double the country’s renewable energy generation in three years.

For solar and wind industries, the latest proposal would mean more tax credits for developing power plants and producing electricity. Congress passed $18 billion worth of energy tax credits last October that included incentives for solar, wind, geothermal and hydropower companies (see Lawmakers Approves Energy Tax Credits, Bailout).

What solar, wind and other renewable electricity companies want, however, is money directly from the federal government for developing power projects. A big part of the tax credit package passed last October would provide incentives for companies investing in solar power projects. But many of these companies, such as banks and other types of investors — have little money to invest in renewable energy projects right now as a result of credit crunch and bad economy.

Obama’s advisors are reportedly considering converting those tax credits into direct payments or count them toward past taxes. Some senators also are toying with the idea of making those tax credits tradable, Bloomberg reported.

Congressional leaders are looking at putting together the economic stimulus legislation by mid-February. That would give various greentech lobbying groups just a month to get their requests included. Many of them already have submitted their wish lists to Obama’s advisors and federal lawmakers (see What the Green Industry Wants from Obama).