Greentech Factories Get $2.3B in Tax Credits, Obama Wants $5B More

For the companies behind more than 180 greentech equipment factories around the country, today brings a couple billion reasons to celebrate: The Obama administration has just announced $2.3 billion in tax credits worth up to 30 percent of the costs for 183 manufacturing projects in 43 states. But several hundred other applicants didn’t win credits under the program, which was funded under the Recovery Act to support projects going into service by 2014 — and not necessarily because they’re under qualified.

According to a release from the Department of Energy today, more than 500 requests for tax credits totaling more than $8 billion rolled in for the program — “far more interest than anticipated.” The agency  says it now has “a substantial backlog of technically acceptable applications” for “worthy projects.” Rather than showing these applicants the door, the Obama administration hopes Congress will green-light an additional $5 billion in funding to expand the program.

The creation of the tax credit program this summer was a big deal because while credits were already available for renewable-energy generation projects, these were some of the first to offer a boost further upstream for the manufacturing of gear needed for the installations. The idea of the program is to help make the U.S. a manufacturing hub for clean power equipment.

Back in August, the Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group, predicted that the credits, combined with other provisions under the Recovery Act, would create 110,000 solar jobs by the end of 2010. The DOE estimates that the facilities supported by the awards announced today will generate more than 17,000 jobs. With matching funds from the private sector, the agency expects the projects to result in another 41,000 jobs. About 30 percent of the projects will be completed this year, according to the DOE.

One of the biggest winners in today’s announcement is General Electric (s GE), which the Department of Energy has awarded credits for eight projects — including $25.5 million for a battery plant in Schenectady, NY. In May 2009, GE CEO Jeff Immelt announced (pictured) that GE would make an “initial investment” of $100 million in a new upstate New York battery factory (a site for the facility was chosen in Schenectady a few months later). The conglomerate hoped stimulus funds would help it accelerate construction of the plant to build sodium-based battery cells for hybrid freight trains and other applications.

startup funded by GE Equity and GE Energy Financial Services (as well as the Angeleno Group and others), also scored credits today: TPI Composites, which announced an agreement in 2007 to supply GE with wind turbine blades, won tax credits for facilities in Iowa and Nebraska building composite materials for lightweight turbine blades.

The DOE awarded nearly $17 million in credits to electric car company Think North America to set up a vehicle assembly and component manufacturing facility in Indiana. Other projects OK’d for credits today include smart meter maker Itron (s ITRI) (for expansion of a South Carolina meter factory), PPG Industries (for a Louisiana facility producing coatings for solar cells) and W.L. Gore & Associates (for production of emission-reducing gas turbine filters and advanced membranes used in high-efficiency buildings, vehicles and fuel cells). The full list can be downloaded here.

Top photo courtesy of Flickr user chaunceydavis818