Solar gold under the rainbow

If at first you don’t succeed, try again. After failing to muster enough votes on Monday, the House on Friday approved the financial market bailout plan by a vote of 263-171, sending the bill to the desk of the president. The final version of the bailout included the extensions for renewable tax credits that Congress has been struggling with all year (the House and Senate disputed how to offset the credits with new revenues).

The $17 billion in tax credits includes an eight-year extension of the investment tax credit for solar energy, a one-year extension of the production tax credit for wind, and a two-year extension of the PTC for solar, biomass, and hydropower. The residential energy-efficient property credit would also be extended through 2016, and the definition of the systems that qualify for that credit would be expanded to include small wind investment and geothermal heat pumps. There are also incentives for bicycle commuting and plug-in electric vehicles.

Muckraker: Grist on Politics

The bill also includes provisions for carbon capture and sequestration, oil shale, tar sands, and coal-to-liquid fuels, which enviros are less happy about. But the final passage of the various tax credits is a welcome win for renewable industries, which have been begging all summer for Congress to come to agreement on the package.

UPDATE: “This bill is a major step in our long journey toward energy independence and ensures that solar energy will be a significant part of America’s energy future,” said Solar Energy Industries Association president Rhone Resch in a statement. “This long-term extension of the solar tax credits will create a domestic solar industry with hundreds of thousands of jobs while providing clean, affordable, carbon-free energy to millions of American families, businesses, and communities.”

UPDATE: President Bush signed the bill Friday afternoon.