Financial incentives for wind energy
In January, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick announced his plan to develop enough energy generated from wind to power 800,000 homes in the state by 2020. At the federal level, the Obama-Biden New Energy for America plan calls for producing 10 percent of the nation's electricity from renewable energy sources by 2012.
And, with the push to encourage wind turbine installations, financial incentives come into play.
The Commonwealth Wind Incentive Program (CWIP) assists responsibly sited wind energy projects of all sizes in achieving successful and timely installations, while also supporting Governor Patrick's goal, according to the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative's website.
The CWIP provides rebate, grant, and loan funding for the installation of wind projects in Massachusetts. Funding is available for residential, commercial, industrial, and public facilities that are customers of investor-owned electric distribution utilities or Municipal Light Plant Departments that pay into the Renewable Energy Trust (RET). There are three initiatives within this program - Micro Wind, Community-Scale Wind, and Commercial Wind.
On July 22, the RET approved grants totaling more than $2.2 million, including two awards for feasibility studies by the Allen Farm in Chilmark and the Up-Island Regional School District.
At the federal level, in October 2008, the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 added a new 30-percent tax credit for small wind energy systems and geothermal heat pump systems, through December 31, 2016. There is no maximum credit amount for a small wind energy system put in service after 2008.
Farmers, ranchers, and rural business owners may benefit from USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grants through July 31. The grants cover 25 percent of the total installed cost of a small wind turbine system.
The USDA grants, when used in conjunction with the Federal Investment Tax Credit, may help a farmer install a small wind turbine system for roughly 50 percent of the normal cost.
Gary Harcourt, owner of Great Rock Windpower, said incentives are a big lure. "If you have a good wind site, you'd be crazy not to put a wind turbine up," he said. "Before the incentives, a 5-kW turbine would cost about $50,000, and after, about $15,000."
Although some people fear wind turbines may bloom all over the Island, Mr. Harcourt said that fear is unfounded. Most people's lots are not large enough or won't meet the setback requirements, he said.
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