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Is the boom over for alternative energy – or just getting started?

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But what happens if alternative-energy tax credits expire at the end of this year as they're slated to?

Hilton: We certainly are concerned about the tax-credit issue. And, in fact, many of the new projects that would be coming on line, if they're not done by March, will not be able to qualify for the tax credit if it doesn't go through.... In effect, what's happening is the Republicans don't see any real incentive in getting it through, and the Democrats on the other side would love to be able to point to the fact that there's a failure. So when it comes to election time, they can come back and say: "Hey, look, we tried to get this through and it was blocked."

So prospects are bad for passage.

Becker: Prospects are poor in the very short term. But if you take one step back and look at the three main contenders for the presidency right now, all three support climate-change legislation and, I think, policies that are going to be supportive of renewable energy..... In the next administration, you're going to see ... some climate-change legislation and strong support for renewable-energy technologies.

But wouldn't a gap in tax credits hurt the companies you're investing in?

Hilton: One thing to think about is that it's not just about the US. If you look at where a lot of the growth is coming [from], it's coming from Europe – it's coming from Spain, it's coming from Germany. Just as likely, it's coming from China, where you see that they've already made a 15 percent commitment to renewable energy for a long-term energy goal. So the US is part of the story, but it's not the full story for many of the companies in our fund.

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