The Smart-Markets program helps communities to identify economically viable renewable energy projects.  We partner with rural business incubators, economists, and community renewable energy experts from around the United States.


Renewable energy development that is locally owned involves participation from members of a community who have direct financial stake in the project beyond land lease agreements and tax revenues or incentives.  While locally-owned projects differ based on the natural resources and the economic landscape, this type of development is structured to optimize benefits to the community.

When renewable energy projects are developed locally, the economic advantages return to local citizens. Locally-owned projects increase the local tax base and employ a variety of financing structures to stimulate entrepreneurship and revitalize rural economies in the long term.  In fact, several studies have shown local ownership to have far greater economic, jobs creation and social benefits than absentee ownership[1].

Investment Tax Credits

The Investment Tax Credit (ITC) reduces federal income taxes for qualified tax-paying owners for up to 30% of the capital investment in renewable energy projects. The credit is equal to 30% of expenditures, with no maximum credit for technologies placed in service after December 31, 2008.

  • Wind energy systems of all sizes qualify for the 30% ITC through the wind energy PTC in-service deadline of December 31, 2012.
  • Closed- loop biomass systems (including biomass CHP projects) qualify for a 30% tax credit through December 31, 2013.

Carbon Offsets

Many conscientious individuals and businesses are choosing to offset their carbon dioxide emissions by making a contribution to projects that reduce carbon emissions.  This exchange has become known as “carbon credits,” “carbon offsets,” or “renewable energy credits.”  The JOBS Project is working with a leading carbon exchange that allows consumers nationwide to choose which projects they support with their purchases.  Carbon offsets can provide renewable energy projects with financial support, while sharing the story of locally-owned Central Appalachian renewable energy.

  1. [1] Kildegaard and Myers-Kuykindall. “Community Vs. Corporate Wind: Does it Matter Who Develops the Wind in Big Stone County, MN?” University of Minnesota, 2006; and Bolinger, Mark. “Community Wind Power Ownership Schemes in Europe and their Relevance to the United States,” Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 2001.