Congress Going Solar?

In the 109th Congress" final hours last December, it passed legislation extending the federal solar tax energy credits through 2008 (see "Green Design on a Roll," feature sidebar, January/February 2007). The Solar Energy Industries Association was cautiously optimistic about the one-year extension under the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006, but warned that it was not enough incentive to spur real growth in solar energy. Instead, the group is pushing for an eight-year extension which it hopes will find favor with the Democrat-controlled 110th Congress.

The association says the legislation is essential to keep costs competitive so more companies will invest in solar technology and large-scale solar projects. The current bill extends a 30 percent tax credit for the purchase of a residential solar water heater, photovoltaic equipment or a fuel cell. Businesses can get a 30 percent credit for fuel-cell power plants, solar energy and fiber-optics. That business credit will be reduced to a permanent 10 percent after December 31, 2008, when the residential credit will disappear altogether. Rhone Resch, SEIA president, says, "This bill is a patch, and emphasizes the importance for Congress to enact long-term, comprehensive clean energy legislation." CONTACT: Solar Energy Industries Association, (202)682-0556, —Brita Belli