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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

With Emerging Incentives, Clean Energy No Longer a VIP Club

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Thursday, May 25, 2023   

Clean-energy products, such as electric vehicles or home heat pump systems, might seem out of reach for a lot of people. But with federal incentives and other support, more Wisconsinites - including low-income residents - could soon have easier access.

Last year's federal Inflation Reduction Act includes a mix of tax credits and rebates for products designed to make homes more energy efficient and save drivers some green if they want to buy an EV.

Francisco Sayu, emerging technology director for the group RENEW Wisconsin, said there has long been an exclusive tone tied to the renewable-energy market. But he said the new incentives are a game-changer.

"If you're a renter," said Sayu, "there are rebates and tax credits for equipment that you can take with you when you move."

One example is a portable window heat pump that can be used as an air conditioner.

Sayu acknowledged implementation of the IRA is complex, meaning the rebates aren't available yet.

Separately, the Department of Housing and Urban Development recently announced funding from the Act for owners of multifamily units - serving low-income residents - to seek grants and loans to improve the energy efficiency of their properties.

As for electric vehicles, Sayu said there are now more options on the used market as some of the earlier models begin to age. And the federal incentives can be used for previously owned EV's.

"If you purchase an electric vehicle that is priced below $25,000 and it's at least three years old," said Sayu, "you qualify for a 30% tax credit up to $4,000. And that makes electric vehicles pretty competitive with internal-combustion cars."

While states are awaiting guidance on how to phase in some of the rebates, Sayu said Wisconsin is in a good position because it already has a built-in statewide entity that carries out these types of programs.

The state's Public Service Commission says that entity, called Focus on Energy, will directly offer IRA programs across Wisconsin once funding is made available.




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