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Arizona Solar Center Blog

Commentary from Arizona Solar Center Board Members and invited contributors.

While blog entries are initiated by the Solar Center, we welcome dialogue around the posted topics. Your expertise and perspective are highly valued -- so if you haven't logged in and contributed, please do so!

U.S. Rep Gabriella Giffords Addresses Solar Economics Forum

Arizona lawmaker says solar can help meet our energy needs

WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords this week outlined the future of solar power and its potential for growth, telling a conference in the nation's capital that energy from the sun is becoming cost-competitive with traditional energy sources. Giffords spoke Thursday at the Solar Economics Forum USA.

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TEP seeks solar-plant bids

Tucson Electric Power Co. is seeking bids to locate a "utility scale" solar plant in the Tucson area, along with some smaller installations on underused land, possibly on reclaimed landfills. In a request for proposals released last week, the utility seeks to buy 50,000 to 100,000 megawatt-hours of energy per year from solar installations built and owned by third parties.

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Arizona gets $9.6 million to help energy efficiency in small towns

Arizona received $9.6 million Monday that will be funneled to small cities and towns across the state to further their goals for energy efficiency. The disbursement, part of $354 million pool released by the U.S. Department of Energy, is for Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants. Much of those funds already have been distributed to large cities and counties in the state.

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ASU West getting a green makeover

Arizona State University West is boosting its green profile over the next several months with a major retrofit of campus light fixtures - indoors and out - to high-efficiency models. ASU campuses have a reputation to uphold after the "Princeton Review" named ASU's Tempe campus as a "standout" on its list of the greenest universities in the country.

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Partnership expands Mesa's use of solar power

Mesa's Energy Resources Department and SolFocus, a California-based solar energy company with a manufacturing plant in Mesa, will showcase new solar technology at the city's Central Arizona Project Water Treatment Plant in east Mesa. SolFocus will build 11 next-generation concentrating photovoltaic solar arrays alongside four existing demonstration arrays they have previously installed.

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China could meet its energy needs by wind alone, according to new report

China has become second only to the US in its national power-generating capacity and is now the world’s largest CO2 emitter, according to a report from Harvard and Tsinghua Universities. The report also demonstrates the enormous potential for wind-generated electricity in China.

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First Solar signs deal to build plant in China

Field of panels will stretch for 25 miles

Tempe-based First Solar Inc. announced a plan Tuesday to build the world's largest solar power plant in China, opening the door for the manufacturer to serve one of the world's most rapidly developing economies. The plan not only represents a milestone for alternative energy but a validation of the company's efficiency and low production costs.

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APS gets $20 million for school solar, Scottsdale projects move forward

Arizona Public Service Co. will get to count about $20 million in incentives paid to outfit schools with solar power as part of its residential allotment this year. The Arizona Corporation Commission approved the measure on Wednesday to ensure schools are not left out of incentives offered by the utility.

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SRP EarthWise Residential Solar Energy Program - Notice to Vendors - 2009-09-08

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From: Earthwisesolar [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]
Sent:   Tuesday, September 08, 2009 5:07 PM
Subject:     SRP Residential Solar Program Changes begin today


Dear Solar Vendor:

Just a friendly reminder that beginning today, the new modified SRP EarthWise Residential Solar Energy Program requirements go into effect.

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Arizona owned petroleum company buys solar power plant

PHOENIX -- Union Distributing announced it will install two solar energy power plants at Union Distributing's petroleum bulk plant facilities in Phoenix and Tucson respectively. This will be the third largest, privately-owned solar energy installation in Arizona.

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Court rejects Goldwater lawsuit on renewable energy standards

The Arizona Corporation Commission has the authority to set renewable energy standards and allow utilities to collect tariffs to meet them, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge has ruled. The ruling, filed Wednesday morning by Judge Joseph B. Heilman, affirmed the ability of the ACC to set such standards, despite a lawsuit brought by the Goldwater Institute on behalf of several Arizona Public Service Co. clients.

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DOE, Treasury Announce $500 Million In First-Round Cash-Grant Awards

The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Department of Energy have selected the recipients of $502 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding under a program that provides cash assistance to energy-production companies in place of earned tax credits.

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Clean energy race includes stimulus funding for small businesses

Recently, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu stated that $37 million in funding from the Recovery Act will be available to qualified small businesses through the Department of Energy (DOE) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. This funding report follows a sequence of numerous other green technology allocations from the Stimulus program, which are being announced on nearly a weekly basis.

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Tucson Electric Power’s subsidies help the city build seven solar PV systems

The City of Tucson is taking advantage of Tucson Electric Power’s SunShare subsidies to help fund seven new photovoltaic arrays that should boost the city’s solar generating capacity by more than 1MW.

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Federal Rebates for Heating and Cooling Systems

The federal government offers a rebate of 30% (up to $1500) for A/C units as well as for heating units.

The Energy Star website (address link below) has posted some Q and A which may be helpful for Arizona consumers.
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Q: Do I have to replace both my heating and air conditioning to qualify for the tax credit?

A: The law does not require that you replace both your heating and air conditioning, but practically speaking you will probably have to replace both for the air conditioner to qualify.
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Q: Is the $1,500 tax credit available for each product?
Can I get $1,500 for windows and another $1,500 for a new HVAC system?
Can I get $1,500 in 2009 and another $1,500 in 2010?
Can two people living in the same home both get the $1,500 credit?

A: Even if you purchase multiple products you can only get a maximum of $1,500 over the 2-year period (2009 & 2010).
Basically you can spend up to $5,000 during this 2 year period on a single or multiple products, and get 30% or $1,500 (30% of $5,000 = $1,500) back as a tax credit.
If you get the entire $1,500 credit in 2009, then you can't get anything additional in 2010.

Click here for the Energy Star Website Q&A and explanations.

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UA panel examines our solar future

Costs, challenges discussed; TEP unveils proposal

University and private industry experts participate in panel addressing our solar future at the University of Arizona's Solar Fusion event. The event was put on by the university's Arizona Research Institute for Solar Energy or AzRISE.

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Xcel to use solar in coal plant

Xcel Energy's Cameo unit will become the first coal-fired plant in the country to be linked to a solar-energy array. Xcel and Abengoa Solar, which will build the solar unit, broke ground on the $4.5 million project east of Grand Junction, Colorado on Thursday. The goal of the pilot study is to see how effectively a field of parabolic mirrors can cut the amount of coal used to generate electricity.

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Open house for UA's solar home

It's showtime for students building an experimental solar home at the University of Arizona.

Students, mainly from the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, have been working double shifts for the past week to assemble their entry in the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon, in time for Friday's Solar Fusion events at the University of Arizona.

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Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit

(Information provided by DSIRE - Last reviewed 02/19/2009)
Incentive Type:   Personal Tax Credit
State:   Federal
Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies:   Solar Water Heat, Photovoltaics, Wind, Fuel Cells, Geothermal Heat Pumps, Other Solar Electric Technologies
Applicable Sectors:   Residential
Amount:   30%
Maximum Incentive:   Solar-electric systems placed in service before 2009: $2,000
Solar-electric systems placed in service after 2008: no maximum
Solar water heaters placed in service before 2009: $2,000
Solar water heaters placed in service after 2008: no maximum
Wind turbines placed in service in 2008: $4,000
Wind turbines placed in service after 2008: no maximum
Geothermal heat pumps placed in service in 2008: $2,000
Geothermal heat pumps placed in service after 2008: no maximum
Fuel cells: $500 per 0.5 kW
Carryover Provisions:   Excess credit may be carried forward to succeeding tax year
Eligible System Size:   Fuel cells: 0.5 kW minimum
Equipment/Installation Requirements:   Solar water heating property must be certified by SRCC or by comparable entity endorsed by the state in which the system is installed. At least half the energy used to heat the dwelling's water must be from solar. Geothermal heat pumps must meet federal Energy Star requirements. Fuel cells must have electricity-only generation efficiency greater than 30%.
Authority 1:   26 USC § 25D
Date Enacted:   8/8/2005 (subsequently amended)
Date Effective:   1/1/2006
Expiration Date:   12/31/2016
Authority 2:   IRS Form 5695 & Instructions: Residential Energy Credits



Summary:
Note: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 does not allow taxpayers eligible for the residential renewable energy tax credit to receive a U.S. Treasury Department grant instead of taking this credit.

Established by the federal Energy Policy Act of 2005, the federal tax credit for residential energy property initially applied to solar-electric systems, solar water heating systems and fuel cells. The Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 (H.R. 1424) extended the tax credit to small wind-energy systems and geothermal heat pumps, effective January 1, 2008. Other key revisions included an eight-year extension of the credit to December 31, 2016, the ability to take the credit against the alternative minimum tax, and the removal of the $2,000 credit limit for solar-electric systems beginning in 2009. The credit was further enhanced in February 2009 by The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (H.R. 1: Div. B, Sec. 1122, p. 46), which removed the maximum credit amount for all eligible technologies (except fuel cells) placed in service after 2008.

A taxpayer may claim a credit of 30% of qualified expenditures for a system that serves a dwelling unit located in the United States and used as a residence by the taxpayer. Expenditures with respect to the equipment are treated as made when the installation is completed. If the installation is on a new home, the "placed in service" date is the date of occupancy by the homeowner. Expenditures include labor costs for onsite preparation, assembly or original system installation, and for piping or wiring to interconnect a system to the home. If the federal tax credit exceeds tax liability, the excess amount may be carried forward to the succeeding taxable year. The excess credit can be carried forward until 2016, but it is unclear whether the unused tax credit can be carried forward after then. The maximum allowable credit, equipment requirements and other details vary by technology, as outlined below.


Solar-electric property
  • There is no maximum credit for systems placed in service after 2008. The maximum credit is $2,000 for systems placed in service before January 1, 2009.
  • Systems must be placed in service on or after January 1, 2006, and on or before December 31, 2016.
  • The home served by the system does not have to be the taxpayer's principal residence.
  • Note that the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has published a five-page document that provides answers to frequently asked questions regarding the federal tax credits for solar energy.

Solar water-heating property
  • There is no maximum credit for systems placed in service after 2008. The maximum credit is $2,000 for systems placed in service before January 1, 2009.
  • Systems must be placed in service on or after January 1, 2006, and on or before December 31, 2016.
  • Equipment must be certified for performance by the Solar Rating Certification Corporation (SRCC) or a comparable entity endorsed by the government of the state in which the property is installed.
  • At least half the energy used to heat the dwelling's water must be from solar in order for the solar water-heating property expenditures to be eligible.
  • The tax credit does not apply to solar water-heating property for swimming pools or hot tubs.
  • The home served by the system does not have to be the taxpayer's principal residence.
  • Note that the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has published a five-page document that provides answers to frequently asked questions regarding the federal tax credits for solar energy.

Fuel cell property
  • The maximum credit is $500 per half kilowatt (kW).
  • Systems must be placed in service on or after January 1, 2006, and on or before December 31, 2016.
  • The fuel cell must have a nameplate capacity of at least 0.5 kW of electricity using an electrochemical process and an electricity-only generation efficiency greater than 30%.
  • In case of joint occupancy, the maximum qualifying costs that can be taken into account by all occupants for figuring the credit is $1,667 per half kilowatt. This does not apply to married individuals filing a joint return. The credit that may be claimed by each individual is proportional to the costs he or she paid.
  • The home served by the system must be the taxpayer's principal residence.

Small wind-energy property
  • There is no maximum credit for systems placed in service after 2008. The maximum credit is $500 per half kilowatt, not to exceed $4,000, for systems placed in service in 2008.
  • Systems must be placed in service on or after January 1, 2008, and on or before December 31, 2016.
  • The home served by the system does not have to be the taxpayer's principal residence.

Geothermal heat pumps
  • There is no maximum credit for systems placed in service after 2008. The maximum credit is $2,000 for systems placed in service in 2008.
  • Systems must be placed in service on or after January 1, 2008, and on or before December 31, 2016.
  • The geothermal heat pump must meet federal Energy Star program requirements in effect at the time the installation is completed.
  • The home served by the system does not have to be the taxpayer's principal residence.

Significantly, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 repealed a previous limitation on the use of the credit for eligible projects also supported by "subsidized energy financing." For projects placed in service after December 31, 2008, this limitation no longer applies.  


History
The federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 established a 30% tax credit (up to $2,000) for the purchase and installation of residential solar electric and solar water heating property and a 30% tax credit (up to $500 per 0.5 kilowatt) for fuel cells. Initially scheduled to expire at the end of 2007, the tax credits were extended through December 31, 2008, by the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006.  

In October 2008, the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 extended the tax credits once again (until December 31, 2016), and a new tax credit for small wind-energy systems and geothermal heat pump systems was created. In February 2009, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 removed the maximum credit amount for all eligible technologies (except fuel cells) placed in service after 2008.

 


Contact:
Public Information - IRS
U.S. Internal Revenue Service
1111 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20224
Phone: (800) 829-1040
Web Site: http://www.irs.gov
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Announcing the 2009 Beyond Green™ High-Performance Building Awards

Call for Entries

Along with our sponsors, SBIC is proud to announce the 2009 Beyond Green™ High-Performance Building Awards. This unique program recognizes the initiatives that shape, inform and catalyze the high-performance building market, as well as the real-world application of high-performance design and construction practices.
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