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The United States is taking a big step this month in its efforts to spur private sector investments in clean and renewable energy. U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced $502 million in the first round of cash awards from a U.S. government program that provides cash assistance to energy production companies in place of earned tax credits.
The new funding creates additional upfront capital, enabling companies to create jobs and begin construction that may have been stalled until now.
"This renewable energy program will spur the manufacture and development of clean energy in urban and rural America, allowing us to protect our environment, create good jobs and revitalize our nation's economy," said Treasury Secretary Geithner.
Secretary of Energy Chu said, "These grants will help America's business launch clean energy projects, putting Americans back to work in good construction and manufacturing jobs. The initiative will help double our renewable energy capacity over the next few years and make sure America leads the world in creating the clean energy economy of the future."
Created under Section 1602 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the program is expected to provide more than $3 billion in financial support for clean energy projects by providing direct payments in lieu of tax credits. These payments will support an estimated 5,000 bio-mass, solar, wind, and other types of renewable energy production facilities in all regions of the country over the life of the program.
As a result of this first round of funding, more than 2,000 Americans will have access to jobs in the renewable energy industry – both in construction and manufacturing – while moving the nation closer to meeting President Barack Obama's goal of doubling renewable energy generation in the next few years.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury opened the application process for the program on July 31st, 2009, and is now making the first awards in half the mandated turnaround time of 60 days. Twelve projects were awarded grants. Penascal wind farm in Sarita, Texas received the largest grant, over $114 million. The 12 winning projects would be able to produce 840 megawatts of electricity, representing a 3 percent increase in total U.S. renewable electricity generation capacity.
Clean and renewable energy is a good investment for the economy, the environment, and the future of our world.