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By Robert Rapier on Feb 5, 2009 with no responses

The Green in the Stimulus Package

The stimulus package that President Obama would like to see passed – and is currently under debate in Congress – has about $100 billion (of $900 billion total) that is devoted to renewable energy and environmental projects. Today CNN published a story that detailed this portion of the package:

$100 billion jolt of ‘green stimulus’

The highlights include money for conservation programs, upgrading public transportation, adding capacity to, and starting the digitization of the power grid, and grants for next generation batteries for electric cars. A sampling from the story:

Renewable energy loans: ($10 billion Senate, $8 billion House) – These work like outright grants for various renewable energy and transmission projects in the early stages of development. They could include wave power, geothermal, offshore wind or innovative solar projects, as well as more traditional renewable energy projects.

Advanced vehicle grants: $3.2 billion – More than $2 billion is slated for loan guarantees to companies developing batteries for electric cars. Many say electric vehicles are what will ultimately move the nation away from oil, but developing a suitable battery remains the main hurdle.

Advanced vehicle grants: $3.2 billion – More than $2 billion is slated for loan guarantees to companies developing batteries for electric cars. Many say electric vehicles are what will ultimately move the nation away from oil, but developing a suitable battery remains the main hurdle.

Small-scale renewable tax credits: $1 billion – Currently, if you buy a small windmill for your backyard, a solar hot water heater or a geothermal heating system you can write off 30% of the cost on your federal tax bill, capped at $2,000 for the heating systems and $4,000 for the wind turbine. This bill removes those caps, although the 30% limit remains.

I really don’t know what to make of the stimulus bill overall. Unless I miscalculated (and I have the flu, so that is certainly not out of the question), the present stimulus package equates to $3,000 for every person in the country. That’s actually not as much as I thought it would be. It certainly seems, from various stories I have seen, that there are lots of items in there that really don’t belong. Some of it appears to be pork, other items appear to be good programs, but misplaced in a stimulus bill.

From the news accounts, Republicans are trying to cut out $100 billion from the package, but still expect the final package to come in at over $800 billion. I still remember when Congress canceled the $12 billion Superconducting Super Collider because constructions costs were too high. How times have changed.