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Understanding Texas Renewable Energy Incentives

March 5, 2011

Looking at the state’s seemingly unlimited oil and natural gas reserves, one might think that Texas has no real need of shifting towards renewable energy sources to support its energy independence. But unless really cheap electricity technologies or inexpensive transmission lines come into reality, Texas and any other state for that matter have no choice but to give bigger focus on Texas electricity generation using renewable energy resources.

In recent years, Texas has invigorated a statewide interest in renewable energy guided by a renewable portfolio standard set in 2010 with the goal of setting up 10,000 megawatts of renewable energy installations until the year 2025. And to provide Texans a means to do their part, the state has offered various renewable energy incentives which appear in various forms such as property tax rebates or incentives based on performance.

Given this power to choose their energy options, Texas homes and businesses can get involved with various renewable energy technologies while working with Texas electric utilities that offer incentives to consumers. The following outlines the available renewable energy incentive programs in the state that businesses and residents can take advantage of — towards and cleaner, greener and more energy-secured future.

Available Texas Renewable Energy Incentive Programs

Given the importance of developing renewable energy technologies to generate electricity, both Federal and state governments are offering incentives that will help homes and businesses trim down the initial cost of setting up renewable energy systems. Funding for the installation of renewable energy equipments on an individual basis is not yet available however, but the state is offering tax deductions or exemptions to businesses or residents installing renewable energy equipments. Some of these incentives are described below.

* Wind Energy Incentives

Texas is at the forefront of generating electricity using wind-based technologies and companies or individuals installing or constructing such technologies are eligible to receive tax credits, deductions or exemption. These tax credits should not be viewed as a payment for generating Texas electricity through renewable means but as a means to reduce the amount of taxes an individual or a business should pay.

* Solar Energy Incentives

Incentives for purchasing and installing solar energy equipments are also available, also in the form of dollar-to-dollar reduction of tax liabilities given through tax credits. This incentive can amount up to 10% of the total upfront cost of the solar energy equipment which will be deducted from their franchise or corporate taxes. On top of that, a 100% property tax exemption is also offered by the state for on-site installations that generate Texas electricity. This incentive is actually extended to manufacturers, sellers and installers of the system.

* Ethanol Incentives

Ethanol generation from cellulosic biomass is also mandated to receive incentives based on the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Biomass can come from wood, grass and other agricultural wastes. Furthermore, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 mandated the requirement for total gasoline production to contain billions of gallons of renewable fuel, 15.2 billion by 2012 and 36 billion by 2022, and this would mostly come from ethanol. The resulting biofuels are expected to cut down on greenhouse emissions by 50% to 60%.

* Biodiesel Incentives

The production of biodiesel has achieved significant mileage nationwide during the past few years with the state of Texas hosting most of these biodiesel refineries. Aside from providing a market to cottonseed and soybean crops, biodiesel production is also exempted from the state’s diesel fuel tax. This makes biodiesel more competitive and comparable in prices with petroleum diesel.

* Pollution Reduction Incentives

The generation of Texas electricity through renewable energy means is not the only channel that receives Federal and state incentives. Air quality improvement and pollution reduction programs can also qualify to receive funds from the Emissions Reduction Incentive Grants Program.

Texas residents and businesses can also check with their local electric providers for other energy efficiency programs where they can receive loans, rebates and other incentives for adapting and using renewable energy equipments and technologies.

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