California Approves Stimulus Funding for 3GW of Solar Projects
California ARRA Stimulus Funding Awarded to Imperial Valley and Beacon Solar Energy Projects
In a burst of activity, the California Energy Commission (CEC) approved stimulus funding for three gigawatts-worth of solar projects for the Golden State this month. More solar projects and clean energy proposals – another 8 GW - have applied for
stimulus funding provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in efforts to meet the approval deadline approaching at the end of 2010.
Since the state has had the clean energy projects in limbo awaiting environmental reviews from 2000 to 2008, seeing over one-fourth of the clean energy and solar projects receive stimulus funding in one month is evidence that the Recovery Act is pushing solar projects forward at a much faster pace than in the past. Projects funded include the Imperial Valley Solar Project for Imperial County, spearheaded by Tessera Solar and the Beacon Solar Energy Project from NextEra Energy. These two large-scale solar projects involving solar thermal power account for nearly 1 GW and are the first of their kind permitted in the state of California in the past twenty years.
California has other clean energy projects (pdf) lined up that are not applying for Recovery Act stimulus funding, including solar or wind farms and fuel cell projects, awaiting approvals. The next few months should see continued higher-than-normal activity as the state environmental lawyers, regulators and green energy companies work in tandem to gain approval for solar projects and other clean energy advancements.
The solar projects can qualify for a 30% reduction in taxes, designed by congress to stimulate the switch to cleaner, cheaper energy versus the long-term high costs of continuing to use fossil fuels. The need for fast action is essential, since projects must be underway prior to this year’s end to qualify for this stimulus funding. The tax break, or tax credit if no profit is generated, under the ARRA stimulus funding, must apply to solar projects getting underway in 2010, since it expires on December 31 of this year.