Udall Announces Bill to Create Jobs, Strengthen Colorado’s Clean Energy Economy

Bill Updates Income Tax Code for Solar Power, Offers Tax Credit for Homeowners who Invest in Community Solar Projects

Washington, D.C. – March 17, 2010 – (RealEstateRama) — A month ago, U.S. Senator Mark Udall had the opportunity to spend a week listening to Coloradans’ ideas for how to strengthen the state’s economy during a visit to the Western Slope and at an Energy Jobs Summit he co-sponsored in Aurora. He heard firsthand from business leaders and citizens about ways he could partner with Colorado communities to create jobs and strengthen the clean energy economy. And today, Senator Udall rolled out the first of a package of clean-energy job-creation bills based on those ideas – specifically an idea he heard during a visit to Holy Cross Energy in Glenwood Springs.

Holy Cross Energy has teamed up with the Clean Energy Collective to offer ways for homeowners to pool their resources and invest in solar panels located on a separate plot of land. It’s a new method of tapping solar energy, known as community solar projects or “solar farms,” which has the potential to increase the market for solar power. But they, like solar energy providers across the state and the country, have found that the federal tax code hasn’t taken into consideration growth and innovation in the solar industry. While the law currently allows homeowners to take an income tax credit for PV cells installed on individual homes, it doesn’t allow the same credit for community solar projects.

Senator Udall’s Solar Uniting Neighborhoods (SUN) Act of 2010 modernizes the tax code regarding solar energy, enabling homeowners who invest in community solar projects to take a 30 percent tax credit just like individuals who install PV cells on their houses. From Brighton and Burlington to Grand Junction and Cortez, communities and rural electric cooperatives are taking note of these emerging opportunities. And the SUN Act of 2010 will increase the market for solar energy products and services, helping boost Colorado as a world leader in the clean energy economy. Like other solar tax credits, it would expire in 2016 unless renewed.

“The best ideas to create jobs come from people on the ground – they are the experts on the needs and demands in our communities. And this is the perfect example of how we can work together to turn those good ideas into reality,” Senator Udall said. “I’m proud to introduce this bill based on what I learned on the Western Slope. It will expand the use of our abundant solar power, strengthen Colorado’s renewable energy industry and create good-paying jobs throughout our state.”

Senator Udall announced his bill during a press conference call with reporters earlier today. He was joined on the call by representatives from the Clean Energy Collective and Holy Cross Energy, who talked about the potential for community solar projects.

“The community-based clean energy model has the potential to be the vehicle, which spurs widespread adoption of clean energy and puts us well on our way to a long-term, sustainable, clean energy nation,” said Paul Spencer, of the Clean Energy Collective.

“Our electric cooperative philosophy and the Clean Energy Collective model have shaped a collaborative approach that ‘All should benefit uniformly.’ Senator Udall’s efforts to help establish tax credit parity for the community system model creates a tremendous opportunity for member-consumers of Holy Cross Energy to participate and enjoy the benefits of Colorado ‘home-grown’ renewable energy generation,” said Steve Casey, of Holy Cross Energy.

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