The Stimulus Bill And Energy

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The stimulus bill set aside $43 billion for energy, and the Department of Energy has doled out $2.4 billion so far. The money is working its way through the system, paying for things ranging from home weatherization to green power.

JEFF BRADY: I'm Jeff Brady in Denver. The stimulus legislation set aside $43 billion for energy. Most of that is being distributed by the Department of Energy, which has doled out two point four billion so far. And each day more money is making its way out of Washington.


BRADY: Inside a north Denver house, two men are stapling plastic around an attic opening. Later they'll blow insulation up there. They work for a non- profit called SunPower. The stimulus legislation includes five billion dollars to boost programs like this. Program Manager Chuck Temple says SunPower plans to more than double the number of homes it winterizes this year once the federal money arrives.

CHUCK TEMPLE: We expected stimulus money to be in our hands in earnest within the next week or so.

BRADY: And it's clear how this will stimulate the economy. Temple says his agency is hiring up to 20 more employees. That'll nearly double the staff. And they plan to spend $200,000 buying new trucks and vans equipped with generators and insulation blowers.

TEMPLE: I mean, we have folks lined up, we have contractors lined up. We are ready to put that stimulus money to use.

BRADY: Every few days the Department of Energy announces plans for spending more stimulus money. Today it was four billion to update the country's electricity grid and better prepare it for more sources of renewable energy. Certainly you're more likely to welcome the DOE announcements if you're in the renewable energy industry since that's where most of the money is focused. Jim Walker is an executive with wind and solar company Inexco. He's seeing plenty of stimulus happening. He says last December the financial firms that back renewable projects had a lot of time on their hands after credit markets ground to a halt.

JIM WALKER: Now when I talk to them, the same people we go to for financing this thing, I'm putting out more proposals everyday than I used to in the heyday of 2008.

BRADY: Thanks primarily to the extension of an important tax credit program for the renewable energy industry and additional incentives in the stimulus legislation. Jeff Brady, NPR News, Denver.

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