How Obama’s stimulus is creating clean energy jobs
September 16, 2010 Here’s what we hear: a naggingly high unemployment rate, a wavering stock market, tea party protests, low approval ratings for the President and the party in power … … … Here’s what we don’t hear: President Obama’s stimulus package is funding green technology around the nation – creating jobs, spurring innovation and transforming the U.S. economy.
The Obama administration ensured that a portion of last year’s Recovery Act went towards fulfilling a campaign pledge: 1 million electric cars on U.S. highways by 2015. To that end, $2.4 billion was intended to jump start an entire industry geared toward the production of lighter, more energy-dense lithium-ion batteries to power the next generation of vehicles.
Just one example: With a $249 million share of these funds, A123 systems is building battery-production plants across Michigan, employing about 800 workers and laying the groundwork for a grand conversion of Michigan’s faltering economy towards green technology. Another $110 million is helping Johnson Controls – Saft convert a closed auto parts factory into a state-of-the-art battery-production plant in Holland, MI . In addition to more, lighter batteries with the capacity to go farther on a charge, an electric car industry requires an entirely new infrastructure to support it: charging stations. ECOtality (based in Arizona) received $114 million, which it bundled into a larger funding package to set up 15,000 charging stations in 16 cities across 6 states, including the San Diego Metro Area. With a support structure like this, sales of the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf (all-electric vehicles due to roll out in late 2010 and early 2012, respectively) could get a serious boost.
But stimulus investments in green technology aren’t just about electric cars. With a 1,400 percent increase in wind energy production in the U.S. since 2000, and China emerging as a formidable rival in the renewable energy business, some Stimulus funding has been targeted towards spurring innovation (and continuing to increase capacity) in the wind power industry.
Cannon Power is using a $200 million grant expand its wind farm in Washington by more than 350-megawatts – creating 250 jobs and providing enough clean energy to power some 250,000 homes every year. Energetx received $3.5 million for research into new advances in wind turbine blade production. And in a sign of optimism, Energetx has teamed up with Grand Rapids Community College for a specialized training program to help fulfill anticipated needs of more than 1,000 additional workers.Green technology, green energy, green jobs… Stimulus a failure? Think again.
– Dan Heffernan lives and works in San Francisco. His storied academic background includes Environmental Policy and Planning, Economics and Wildlife Biology. His passion for all things green is matched only by his obsession with national politics. For a heavily-biased political rant, check out his blog at www.HeffBombs.com. This is a Reuter’s repost.