March 22nd, 2009
Written by Clayton B. Cornell, courtesy of Gas2.0
President Obama announced today that $2.4 billion will be made available for the US-based development of plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.
The fund is intended to spur growth in research and manufacturing of next-generation plug-in hybrid vehicles and advanced battery componenents for electric cars, while creating tens of thousands of US jobs and reducing US petroleum dependence. It should also help meet the President’s goal of putting one million plug-in hybrid vehicles on the road by 2015.
The President made the announcement while visiting Southern California Edison’s Electric Vehicle Center. SCE is one of the largest electric utilities in the country and researches battery-powered and hybrid engines, along with potential impacts of having massive numbers of electric vehicles taking power from conventional utility networks.
This investment will not only reduce our dependence on foreign oil, it will put Americans back to work. It positions American manufacturers on the cutting edge of innovation and solving our energy challenges.
The plan was partially outlined on the Department of Energy’s website:
- The Department of Energy is offering up to $1.5 billion in grants to U.S. based manufacturers to produce these highly efficient batteries and their components.
- The Department of Energy is offering up to $500 million in grants to U.S. based manufacturers to produce other components needed for electric vehicles, such as electric motors and other components.
- The Department of Energy is offering up to $400 million to demonstrate and evaluate Plug-In Hybrids and other electric infrastructure concepts — like truck stop charging station, electric rail, and training for technicians to build and repair electric vehicles.
Popularity: 3% [?]
February 18th, 2009
If you’ve long longed to green your home but never felt you had the money to do so, get ready to take action. Obama’s new stimulus plan, signed into law Tuesday, might give you just the extra financial nudge you need to undertake that eco-project you’ve had in mind.
First of all, the new stimulus plan will give you a tax credit for 30% of the costs, up to $1,500 total, for these eco-improvements on a property (via Associated Press):
>> Getting new energy-efficient furnaces, air conditioners, or windows
>> Replacing leaky windows
>> Putting more insulation into attics.
In addition to tax breaks, the stimulus plan lets you get government rebates for buying Energy Star rated appliances. About $300 million will be given out via these eco-rebates through state-run programs. Check with your state in the coming months to see how you can take advantage of these rebates.
Low-income households will also be able to get greenification help, thanks to the $5 billion going to the Weatherization Assistance Program (via LA Times). This existing but underfunded program’s aimed at helping low-income households make energy-efficiency improvements in their homes; more than 33.8 million households are eligible for weatherization services according to the Department of Energy stats. So — If your income’s less than 50% above the poverty level, make sure you’re signed up to get on the waiting list in your state for this eco program, which could reduce your annual gas heating bill by almost a third.
Wealthier people can also get some financial help — though the economic boost isn’t tied to enviro-leanings. According to the Associated Press, the biggest winners from this stimulus bill could be “Americans with more expensive homes who will be able to refinance their home loans at cheaper rates.”
Why? The stimulus bill “temporarily raises the maximum size of mortgages that government-sponsored mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can purchase and market as securities from $417,000 to as high as $729,750 in expensive parts of the country such as New York and California,” says the AP. The bill also “makes a similar change for loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration.”
What this basically means is that homeowners will be able mortgage or remortgage their houses at much more favorable interest rates. Plus, through a separate tax break in the stimulus plan, first-time homebuyers will get an $8,000 tax credit, so long as they buy their homes before Dec. 1.
All that’s to say that many homeowners will be able to save a lot of money — which can be put toward greening projects — which can also earn their own tax credits and rebates!
That’s already a lot of good green news, but homeowners could see additional eco and economical benefits from the stimulus bill. Since the bill’s aimed at creating a lot more green jobs, from training people to make wind turbines and solar panels to promoting energy efficiency in schools and government buildings, we’ll hopefully all see some savings result from the expanding market for energy-efficient products and services.
Popularity: 4% [?]
January 9th, 2009
In case you missed it yesterday, President-Elect Obama laid out his economic stimulus package plans– and there was plenty of good news for us green folk. Green leaders around the country are applauding the plan. Quoted in Grist, League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski said, “This morning, President-elect Obama reaffirmed his commitment to invest in efficiency and clean energy technologies as part of his economic recovery package. [He is] ready to hit the ground running, he offered specific details that offer great hope for America’s future success.”
In the speech Obama called for radically increasing the use of clean, renewable energy–both in government buildings and in private homes. He said, “To finally spark the creation of a clean energy economy, we will double the production of alternative energy in the next three years. We will modernize more than 75 percent of federal buildings and improve the energy efficiency of 2 million American homes, saving consumers and taxpayers billions on our energy bills.”
That is music to our ears. As my Low Impact Living co-founder, Jason Pelletier, wrote earlier this week, we now have an outstanding opportunity for the government to drive private and public adoption and use of renewable energy and other eco-smart technologies. And as President Obama seems to understand, driving that adoption is also an excellent way to create new jobs for Americans.
Now let’s all pray that he can get this plan signed and get the green train to leave the station!
Popularity: 2% [?]