Bail-out Bill Includes New Tax Breaks For Utilities Installing Smart Meters

In addition to the investment tax credits for alternative energy, the bailout bill also included new tax breaks for utilities installing smart meters. "Smart meters," which allow utility companies to more effectively price power according to demand and thus encourage more efficient use of power by consumer, cost $120-$200 each, and that cost has been an obstacle to large utilities who want to implement them over their customer base.

The tax credits are worth $915 million over 10 years. Basically, they allow energy companies to depreciate investments in smart meters over 10 years instead of 20 years, so they get a bigger deduction each year.

John O’Connell, a lobbyist for Xcel Energy, commented on the tax breaks and the future of smart meters, saying

"We really applaud Congress for addressing technology beyond the meter because that’s where we think the value really is," Among the possible applications that he envisions: "property that would be installed in peoples’ homes to gauge how much electricity they’re using on an outlet by outlet basis, on an appliance by appliance basis, really super cutting-edge stuff."

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