Green projects, electric cars and solar power on agenda for Obama and Biden

green-projects-electric-cars-and-solar-power-on-agenda-for-obama-bidenPresident Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will focus Tuesday on green projects and the new jobs they will create as they visit a new solar energy center and a former GM plant that will be retooled to produce electric vehicles. They will also announce $3.4 billion in government grants to improve the efficiency of the nation's electrical transmission network. All three projects are examples of how the administration plans to create or save tens of thousands of jobs using money from the stimulus package.

Obama starts his day at Florida Power and Light's Next Generation Solar Energy Center in Arcadia, Fla., one of three solar projects under way in Florida that will create 5,000 jobs. Obama pledged $467 million from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act to expand and accelerate the development and use of solar energy. The Next Generation Solar Energy Center will generate enough power for 3,000 homes when completed. Obama will also highlight new technologies that will allow this solar energy to be transmitted to locations with higher demand.
While in Arcadia, Obama will announce $3.4 billion in government grants to develop and install "smart-grid" technology that will make the nation's electrical grid more reliable and efficient. The money for this project comes from the $787 billion economic stimulus legislation. Grants will range in size from $400,000 to $200 million including:

• $200 million for Constellation Energy Group's Baltimore Gas and Electric to provide new electric meters to 1.1 million households. The new meters will allow real-time monitoring of electricity use and help customers adjust their usage during peak times.

• $28.1 million to Sempra Energy's San Diego Gas and Electric to build a wireless system to link the utility's 1.4 million meters and monitor other equipment across the electrical grid.

In all, there will be 100 government grants in 49 states that will be matched by $4.7 billion in private investments.

Vice President Biden will announce a multimillion-dollar deal to convert a closed GM plant in Wilmington, Del., into a factory for making electric vehicles. Fisker Automotive of Irvine, Calif., will invest $175 million to retool the plant and put many of Delaware's former GM and Chrysler workers back to work. The 60-year-old plant used to produce the Saturn Sky, Pontiac Solstice and Opel GT. It was closed in July and 1,100 people lost their jobs. About 700 workers at a Chrysler plant 15 miles away in Newark, Del., were laid off in December 2008 when that plant closed.

Fisker will pay $18 million for the facility and equipment, and will get tax incentives from Delaware. The company will build an electric vehicle under the name "Project Nina" that is expected to sell for $39,900 after tax incentives.

Fisker says it will create 2,000 jobs at the plant, which expected to be operational in 2011. Administration officials estimate that the deal will indirectly create another 3,000 jobs once the facility is fully operational, which is expected to be in 2014. Fisker got a $528 million loan from the Department of Energy when it started two years ago, and it plans to use some of those funds to retool the Delaware plant.

Lita Epstein has written more than 25 books, including The Complete Idiot's Guide to Value Investing and The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Politics of Oil.

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