Thursday, April 23, 2009

Governor Perdue Signs Clean Energy Grant Legislation

On Earth Day 2009, Governor Sonny Perdue signed House Bill 473, legislation creating a commercial clean energy grant program for solar, wind, energy efficiency and geothermal heat pump projects. The grant program will be administered by the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (GEFA) and is contingent upon the availability of federal stimulus dollars from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

“HB 473 provides Georgia companies with additional incentives for investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy,” said Governor Perdue. “These clean energy grants will also help the private sector meet the state’s goal of reducing energy consumption by 15 percent.”

HB 473 will be administered by GEFA under similar terms and conditions of the current Clean Energy Property Tax Credit (HB 670) passed last year. Quality standards, such as Energy Star criteria for geothermal heat pumps and a high efficiency standard (exceeding ASHRAE 90.1.2004 by 30 percent) for lighting and buildings, determine eligibility for the grant program. The grants will be available on a first come, first served basis; installation of the qualifying clean energy property must be completed before a grant application can be submitted. The maximum grant for each applicant is limited to the lesser of 35 percent of the cost of the clean energy property or the statutory caps.

While HB 473 authorizes Georgia to use ARRA funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy grants to non-residential consumers, the state will not know whether this is possible or how much will be available until its application for recovery funds is reviewed this summer by the U.S. Department of Energy. GEFA is expected to receive a total of approximately $82.5 million for the State Energy Program through ARRA, which will support many other efforts in addition to HB 473.

Governor Perdue has committed all state agencies to reduce energy consumption per square foot in state facilities 15 percent below FY2007 levels by 2020. To further ensure that Georgia’s natural resources are protected for future generations to use and to enjoy, the Governor also challenged Georgia’s citizens, businesses and local governments to match the state’s effort. Meeting this goal will reduce Georgia’s dependence on traditional energy sources, support the economy, and improve the environment.
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