Nestled inside the $700 billion financial bailout bill signed by President Bush late last week is an 8-year extension of the investment tax credit for fuel-cell technology.

The credit initially was put on the books in 2005. It was set to expire at the end of 2008, after being extended for one year in early 2007.

Under the law, customers purchasing fuel cells reportedly will qualify for a tax credit of $3,000 per kW, or 30% of the capital cost, whichever is lower. That’s up from $1,000 per kW or 30% of the cost, previously.

Utilities also are entitled to the credit when purchasing fuel cells under the newly adopted tax law.

The credit expires at the end of 2016.

“With reliable, long-term incentives now in place, we are confident that our manufacturers will see an increase in demand for their products,” says Robert Rose, executive director of the U.S. Fuel Cell Council.

Shortly before the vote, the Department of Energy issued a report saying commercialization of fuel cells could generate 675,000 new “green-collar” jobs over the next quarter-century.

The DOE report says the jobs would involve manufacturing, repairing and recycling fuel cells. Auto shops and dealerships would be among the beneficiaries.