Stimulus Bill Paves the Way for a Greener Future


A nearly $800 billion stimulus package passed by our lawmakers contains incentives for we the people not just to follow our hearts, but also good common sense in preparing for the future that awaits us.

The thinking is reducing energy waste and investing in alternative fuels go hand-in-hand with reviving our anemic economy.

The package goes a long way to target energy waste in federal buildings and homes across the country. $5 billion is set aside to help low-income families weatherize their living spaces with energy saving windows and improved insulation.

Another $4.5 billion is targeted for retrofitting government buildings to make them more energy efficient. According to Reuters, this could save $2 billion a year in lower energy costs. It also provides $6 billion in loan guarantees for renewable energy projects and electricity transmission projects. Renewable energy is energy we generate from natural resources, including sunlight, wind, rain, tides and geothermal heat. Related to this is the package’s $11 billion in loan guarantees to build a “smart grid” to move renewable electricity supplies and build 3,000 miles of transmission lines ($400 billion less than what Al Gore proposed to make this happen). The package also extends tax credits for producing power generated from alternative sources.

Naturally, hybrids also are part of the picture, encouraging the purchase of plug-in hybrid vehicles through a tax credit of at least $2,500 for consumers. Car makers are give the nudge with $2 billion to sell advanced batteries for vehicles, and gas station service owners would see a credit for 50 percent of their cost for putting in alternative pumps that dispense ethanol and other fuel choices. Meantime, the research for more fuels would bet a boost from $3.4 billion for fossil energy study and development and $2.5 million for researching renewable energy. And we consumers would receive rebates for buying greener appliances via $300 million in state matching grants.

All of this amounts to converting the lip service of past legislation into real action. According to Wikipedia, investment capital flowing into renewable energy climbed from $80 billion in 2005 to a record $100 billion in 2006. The dramatic surge is attributed to climate change concerns, high oil prices and increased government support – all factors in creating renewable energy legislation that can actually make a dent on our road to recovery.

Image: Hammer51012

Luanne Bradley

Luanne Sanders Bradley is the West coast Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in San Francisco, California.