Building the Clean Energy Economy

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Since taking office, President Obama and his Administration have taken unprecedented steps to build a clean energy economy in this country. You may have already read about the events and announcements across the Administration in October on this front. I wanted to highlight a few items from the last couple of weeks:

  • Helping Middle Class Families Save on Energy Bills. As part of our efforts to remove barriers standing in the way of a strong and sustainable home energy-efficiency industry, the Vice President announced several new agency initiatives that will help middle-class families save money on their energy bills. 

  • Helping Farmers and Small Businesses Reduce Energy Costs. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced $30 million in loans and grants that will generate and save energy for our nation's farmers and rural small businesses for decades to come.  The loans and grants will go to more than 500 farmers, ranchers, and rural businesses for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects across the country. In each case, the projects announced will cut energy costs by 25 to 65 percent, amounting to an estimated 2.9 million kilowatt hours of energy saved. Among other things, this funding will help replace outdated equipment, such as inefficient grain dryers, support energy production from anaerobic digesters, insulate buildings, and allow recipients to incorporate renewable energy technologies into their operations.

  • Large Scale Solar Power on Public Lands.  Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar approved a large-scale solar energy project on U.S. public lands in Nevada – a 500-megawatt facility that willprovide electricity to about 150,000 homes and create 1,300 construction jobs and up to 200 permanent operation jobs.  Since early October, the Secretary has approved a total of eight large-scale solar energy projects that combined will generate 3,500 megawatts to power more than 1 million homes and create 6,000 construction jobs and 700 permanent plant operations jobs.

  • Cars that Will Run on Compressed Natural Gas. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced an offer of a nearly $50 million conditional loan commitment that will support the development of the six-passenger MV-1, a factory-built wheelchair accessible vehicle that will run on compressed natural gas.  The Vehicle Production Group estimates that the project is expected to create over 900 jobs and that it will produce approximately 22,650 vehicles per year when at full capacity.

  • Greening the Federal Supply Chain. General Services Administrator Martha Johnson and White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley recently announced a collaboration between the federal government and vendors and suppliers to create a greener and more efficient supply chain.

  • Modernizing Our Electric Grid and Powering Electric Cars. Cathy Zoi, the Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the Department of Energy, took part in a ribbon cutting at the first public curbside electric vehicle charging station here in the nation’s capital.  The Department of Energy also awarded $19 million, as part of a public-private investment of more than $30 million, for five projects to increase reliability, efficiency and security of our nation’s electric grid. 

Article by Chris Lu, Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary

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  1. I wonder why solar was chosen for public lands when wind has a much lower cost of energy? Is it just because of more local opposition to turbines?

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