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Renewable-energy grant program gets renewed for a year

A popular federal incentive program that has helped boost renewable-energy projects has been extended another year.

President Obama on Friday signed off on extending the program after it appeared to be in danger of becoming a casualty of partisan bickering in Congress.

The 1603 Treasury grant program, which became part of the overall tax package after heavy industry lobbying, cleared the House late Thursday.

The program, which covers up to 30% of the cost of alternative-energy projects, would have expired by the end of the year. The industry has said the program has helped create 100,000 jobs and $18 billion in investment for thousands of installations.

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“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 Assn., in a statement.

The run-up to the House vote had been a nail-biting experience as developers rushed to meet the deadline in case the extension effort failed, said Rhone Resch, CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Assn.

“It was kind of a roller coaster there,” he said. “There were a lot of projects that were getting close to being canceled. Now, this gives them some flexibility to get their financing together and start construction at a time when they need it most.”

Industry leaders are hoping the renewal of the program is a sign of future bipartisan backing for alternative energy. They’re already looking forward to this time next year, when they are likely to be pushing for another extension of the program.

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But for now, the one-year reprieve will do quite nicely, Resch said.

“It keeps the lights on, keeps us growing,” he said. “There are a lot of happy people in the industry today, and 2011 is looking like it’ll be a true breakout year.”

tiffany.hsu@latimes.com


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