Solar power funding will create jobs, Obama says

By Nicholas Johnston
Sunday, July 4, 2010

President Obama announced the award of $1.85 billion in loan guarantees Saturday to two solar power companies that he said will create thousands of new jobs.

In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama said the money from the Energy Department will help the U.S. transition to a "clean energy economy" that creates hundreds of thousands of jobs in the future.

"We're going to keep competing aggressively to make sure the jobs and industries of the future are taking root right here in America," Obama said.

The loan guarantees will come from money in the $862 billion economic stimulus program enacted early last year. Obama announced the funding the day after government figures showed private employers adding fewer workers than forecast in June, reinforcing concerns that the economic recovery will weaken.

"The recession from which we're emerging has left us in a hole that's about 8 million jobs deep," Obama said. "And as I've said from the day I took office, it's going to take months, even years, to dig our way out."

Abengoa Solar, a unit of the Seville, Spain-based engineering company, will receive a $1.45 billion loan guarantee to build a solar power plant in Arizona that will create 1,600 construction jobs and 85 permanent jobs, according to White House documents released in conjunction with Obama's address.

The power plant will be the first of its kind in the United States and could generate enough energy to power 70,000 homes, Obama said.

"After years of watching companies build things and create jobs overseas, it's good news that we've attracted a company to our shores to build a plant and create jobs right here in America," he said.

Abound Solar, based in Loveland, Colo., will receive a $400 million loan guarantee to expand a solar-panel manufacturing plant in Longmont, Colo., and to open a plant in Tipton, Ind. The two plants will employ about 1,500 people, according to the White House documents.

"When fully operational, these plants will produce millions of state-of-the-art solar panels each year," Obama said.

In the Republican address, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (Ga.) warned that the national debt, which is more than $13 trillion, will be a burden on future generations that will have to pay higher taxes because of "out-of-control spending" by the government.

-- Bloomberg

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