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N.C. gets nearly $21 million stimulus for energy projects

Posted September 18, 2009

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— The U.S. Department of Energy announced Friday that North Carolina will receive nearly $21 million in stimulus funds for energy efficiency and conservation projects.

The funds will create or save 300 jobs, said John Morrison, assistant secretary for energy in the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

Sixty percent of the funds will go to smaller municipalities and counties, while the remaining 40 percent will go to the state.

The state plans to use some of its funds to make government buildings energy efficient and to support projects to convert methane produced by landfills into electricity. Local governments will propose projects for the funds.

Web only: U.S. energy secretary talks about clean energy in N.C. U.S. energy secretary talks about clean energy in N.C.

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said those funds, plus $37 million for larger counties and municipalities, could enable North Carolina to become a leader in the emerging clean-energy industry.

"The new industrial revolution that we will need in order to reduce carbon emissions will be one which other countries ... (have decided) is their economic future," Chu said. "So, the United States has an opportunity to lead in this race, or we can follow."

North Carolina's strong industrial base and research-and-development companies have primed it to become a leader in "high-tech energy manufacturing," the energy secretary said.

"North Carolina has tremendous assets," Chu said. "It has a tremendous opportunity to take advantage as the United States moves into an era where we're going to be promoting energy efficiency, where we're going to be promoting cleaner forms of energy."

The state is already a leader in nuclear energy and has the potential to be a major supplier of biomass and wind energy, he said.

According to an energy department report, North Carolina ranks among the top 20 states for biomass resources – such as agricultural wastes and wood scraps and sawdust produced in furniture mills – that could be converted into electricity.

The report stresses that North Carolina could produce wind energy, particularly along and off the coast and on the highest mountain ridges. Fully exploiting those wind resources would add 10,000 to 20,000 manufacturing jobs, according to a 2008 report from the energy department.

Chu acknowledged concerns that winds farms could disturb vistas and damage tourism, but he said those effects could be mitigated and are outweighed by the benefits of energy production. He pointed out that coastal areas could be covered by water if climate change is not mitigated.

Clean-energy technology, said Chu, could also benefit North Carolina's coal industry, which generates three-fifths of the state's electricity, according to the energy department. Economically feasible ways to trap carbon-dioxide produced by coal plants could be "routinely deployed" in 10 years, he said.

"This is an incredible opportunity to stimulate the economy," Chu said, "whether it's taking advantage of the biofuels potential of North Carolina, whether it's taking advantage of the great offshore wind potential."

Ultimately, efficient uses of clean energy will save consumers and businesses money, Chu said. He cited the example of California, where the energy department credits energy-efficiency measures – including tighter appliance and building standards – for keeping per-capita energy bills down even as energy rates have risen since the 1970s.

California is "an example of how you can do things, how every state in the Union can do things to promote energy efficiency in a way that goes directly into helping everybody, in a very personal way, saving money," Chu said.

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  • colliedave Sep 18, 2009

    California is "an example of how you can do things,

    isn't California ia a major financial doo-doo?

  • mwilliams2 Sep 18, 2009

    I like your optimism, NCcarguy!!! That's enough for at least 16 jobs for everyone in the world, not just in the USA! Outstanding!

  • ObamaMustGo aka NCcarguy Sep 18, 2009

    I think it creates or saves 100 BILLION jobs!!!!

  • hi_i_am_wade Sep 18, 2009

    "Chu acknowledged concerns that winds farms could disturb vistas and damage tourism."

    True. And of course, we have to worry about when, not if, the wind stops blowing. And we have to worry about bird populations because wind farms kill bird en masse, especially migratory birds. And we have to worry about the future taxes to pay for this, because the best way to cure an economy is to give people less money to spend (note the sarcasm there).

  • mwilliams2 Sep 18, 2009

    It does appear from the job ads that there are a large number of positions open in the energy industry. No one knows for sure what will happen in a year, mep. The idea would be that the economy in general will be doing much better, making it more likely these jobs remain permanent. I do know people who are in this field who probably would have been laid off if not for the stimulus. Are you suggesting no one should take any actions because they don't know what the situation will be in a year?

    And, it's shortsighted to think only in terms of the 300 jobs that are directly saved or created. That's 300 people (or 300 families really) who continue to dine out, buy clothing, get haircuts, and participate in the retail/service sectors of the economy. That participation helps keep other jobs and businesses afloat. I think we would be in much worse shape if not for the stimulus money, and personally I see no problem with investing in American jobs, technology, and infrastructure.

  • dwf1205 Sep 18, 2009

    Hey folks, anthropogenic global warming is a lie!

  • mep Sep 18, 2009

    21 Million borrowed dollars = 300 jobs. (saved OR created) Gotta love how the govt can cover themselves with that phrase. So thats $70K per job, for one year. (more than I earn) So what happens after one year? Does a saved job stay saved? Does a created job even remain after one year. Don't worry we will soon find out the answer next year, when all those teachers currently paid for by the Obama so-called stimulas package no longer have funds. How will Bev solve that?