Using some of the remaining stimulus funds, President Obama is allocating $2 billion to be used for solar plant construction. It is a great program and my only qualm is that it should be significantly expanded so we can truly create a green economy and green energy production, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.
The funds are slated to go to a power plant project by Abengoa Solar in Arizona and projects by Abound Solar Manufacturing in Colorado and Indiana. The Arizona project is projected to create 1,600 construction jobs. The Colorado and Indiana projects are projected to create 2,000 construction jobs and 1,500 permanent jobs.
Using the Arizona project as an example, “70 percent of the components and products used in construction will be manufactured in the United States” and this will have a positive effect throughout the supply chain. In the end, the Arizona project will produce enough power to light up 70,000 homes.
This is merely a microcosm of what we could be doing… While I tend to be fiscally conservative, I’m not opposed to spending money when there is a good investment to be made and so long as that investment is paid for. Programs like these should be a focal point as we move toward an economic recovery. As I see it, this is a $2 billion deposit on a new green economy and green energy policy. I’d like to see the program expanded into the neighborhood of $100 billion so projects like these (and wind farms) can begin coast-to-coast. If offset by cuts elsewhere in the budget (waste in Defense is a good starting point), this would be a clear win-win.