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The new federal tax credit on solar-powered equipment is making the near future look especially bright for companies with water treatment plants and potable water storage facilities. These operations can now enjoy major savings on solar-powered water circulators that are designed to eliminate pervasive problems such a noxious odors, air quality violations, health hazards and ineffective chemical treatments.
The federal tax credit, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2006, increases the tax credit for commercial solar installations to 30% for a two-year period, providing the largest tax incentive for solar energy in decades. Enterprises installing solar-powered water treatment equipment before 2008 will enjoy a tax credit in addition to savings on energy, chemicals, labor and potential citation costs.
Solar-powered water treatment equipment includes the unique SolarBee water circulation system that mixes and aerates wastewater ponds and potable water storage facilities. The SolarBee system, manufactured by Pump Systems, Inc. (PSI), can circulate 10,000 gal of water per minute from whatever depth of water is required by the application.
For example, in wastewater holding ponds, SolarBee circulators provide a highly effective odor cap by circulating only the top two feet of the water, generating a gentle, "near-laminar" flow pattern that provides an oxygenated odor cap across the entire surface 24 hours a day.
"This is a major benefit to most businesses that generate wastewater containing organic matter," explains Joel Bleth, PSI president. "Manufacturers, pulp processors, wineries, food processors … all sorts of businesses produce organic waste that ends up in their wastewater. The organic matter produces not only noxious odors, but can produce hazardous aerosols that can escape the pond and expose entire neighborhoods. The SolarBee system creates a reliable ‘cap' that eliminates those risks and accompanying environmental citations."
In potable water storage applications, recent tests and analyses have proven that this breakthrough in water circulation technology allows companies to not only meet higher standards, but also to improve the overall health and quality of potable water treated through chlorination or chloramination. SolarBee units are designed to pump water from varying depths in accordance to water levels.
The SolarBee system can accommodate both chlorine and chloramine injection systems and facilitate thorough breakpoint chlorination whenever necessary. The solar panels that power the system can be easily installed on top of enclosed potable water tanks for exposure to sunlight.
The new federal credit applies to the total amount of equipment expenditures remaining after any state or utility incentives available to the taxpayer have been taken.
The business solar tax credit will continue to be administered as before; all that has changed is the percentage increase to 30%. Operation and legal technicalities of the business credit are well established. An accountant or tax professional familiar with these rules should be able to address any specific issues.
"The establishment of these tax credits signifies that Congress recognizes solar as an important source of energy that belongs as a part of our national energy portfolio. And along the way, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) developed new, powerful supporters of solar who will help us continue to expand solar energy markets in the years to come," says Rhone Resch, SEIA president. He adds that, as high oil and gas prices spur alternative sources of energy, photovoltaic panel costs are decreasing and state and federal officials are continuing to sign solar incentives into law.