Only a few weeks remain before a federal renewable energy incentive program expires. The 1603 Treasury Dept. grant program, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, pays investors a cash grant equal to 30% of the total cost of eligible projects that began from 2009 through December 31, 2011.

Under the program, payment is due within 60 days of the renewable energy system’s activation. After the expiration date, projects may be eligible for the 30% federal investment tax credit program that allows participants to reduce their tax liability.

"The grant program is a big incentive for developers to get their projects started by the end of the year," one N.J. solar energy installer who did not want to be identified told ENR New York recently. "The grant is paid quickly – and it’s 30% of the project’s costs, whereas the credit is up to 30% of costs and, depending on what your tax level is, could be less than what you’d get through the grant." Many solar energy firms are scrambling to try to get their projects started to meet the year-end deadline, he adds.