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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Gov. Sonny Perdue signs landmark renewable energy bill

I hope that Grant Park couple kept their receipts.

Gov. Sonny Perdue put the pen to the paper today and signed what one environmental lobbyist says is the first renewable energy bill with teeth that the state has seen.

HB 670, sponsored by Rep. Chuck Sims, R-Ambrose, would offer income tax credits for energy-efficient and clean energy purchases, such as solar, wind, geothermal and biomass energy for residential and commercial properties. Although the legislation favors the latter, it's a big step toward enticing Georgians to pursue clean energy.

But like everything in Georgia, there's no such thing as totally great news. The total tax incentive cap is tiny — $2.5 million per year — and the bulk of that could go to commercial properties who stand to benefit as much as $500,000 per solar installation. If five companies get five solar installations next year, then it's kaput for 365 days. But something's better than nothing, and this here is definitely something.

Among the benefits for homeowners are income tax credits up to $2,500 for solar thermal systems, up to $10,500 for solar equipment used for electricity and heating, and up to $10,500 for wind power. (Click here for a good take by CL Editor Ken Edelstein on what clean-energy system might be appropriate for your home.) Credits have also been approved for Georgians who invest in geothermal heat pump systems.

The incentives expire Dec. 31, 2012. Click here to view a simple description of the income tax credits offered.

Pam Davidson, an environmental consultant who is running for the soon-to-be-open seat on the PSC after Commissioner Angela Speir steps down, lobbied heavily for the bill along with Jason Rooks of the Georgia Conservancy.

For more information about HB 670, click here. Click on "Current version" for the legalese-laden ins-and-outs of the bill.

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