cuWASHINGTON — Crucial tax incentives for the PV + EV equation in the United States both survived the Congressional wringer and are alive for at least one more year thanks to a mammoth — and controversial — federal tax bill signed into law by President Barack Obama Friday.

The legislation extends the Department of Treasury Section 1603 program that solar industry professionals say has been a key catalyst for growth in commercial solar installations in the U.S. and which also underpins both commercial and residential solar leasing.

The same federal tax legistlation extends the EV infrastructure tax credit for one year until Dec. 31, 2011 at pre-stimulus levels.This means that the tax credit on an EV charger is 30 percent up to $1,000 for consumers and 30 percent up to $30,000 for businesses rather than 50 percent up to $2,000/50 percent up to $50,000, as it has been for the past two years.

“We are glad we were able to help get it extended but disappointed that the credit has been reduced just as the first new wave of electric cars hits the road,” noted Plug In America Legislative Director Jay Friedland in a short blog entry about the tax legislation.

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Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA®) President and CEO Rhone Resch offered the following comment in response to the legislation, “This is a great day for America’s solar industry. With an extension of the 1603 program now in place, the solar industry can continue its record growth, creating new career opportunities for Americans in all 50 states in 2011.”

The grant program was created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Section 1603) to provide commercial solar installations with a cash grant in lieu of the 30 percent solar investment tax credit (ITC). President George W. Bush signed the eight-year ITC into law in 2008, but the economic conditions created by the global recession made it clear that few would be able to utilize the tax credit.

According to SEIA, the Treasury Grant Program (TGP) has helped move forward more than 1,100 solar projects in 42 states and supported $18 billion in investment. The program has also been critical in allowing the solar industry to grow by over 100 percent in 2010, create enough new solar capacity to power 200,000 homes and provide work to more than 93,000 Americans, according to SEIA.

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