In mid-February, President Obama signed the economic stimulus bill into law, renewing his pledge to double U.S. alternative energy production by 2012. The bill allocates more than $45 billion for tax breaks and spending on energy-efficiency measures and renewable energy sources and is expected to create up to 500,000 jobs, as reported by The New York Times. Among its provisions are:
• $13 billion to make federal buildings and public housing more efficient and to weatherize up to one million homes
• More than $10 billion to modernize the electricity grid and install "smart"residential meters
• $20 billion in alternative energy tax incentives for wind, solar, hydro, and other renewable sources
• $2 billion to research a system to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions from coal-burning power plants
• $500 million for green job training
To discuss the importance of alternative energy in the site selection process, Area Development asked four site selection consultants to share their insights, which are outlined in "How Green Is Your Site's Energy?" They all agreed that energy availability, cost, and reliability are paramount in the location decision process. Further, they provided their opinions on the "greenest" locations and those that are in the worst shape as far as energy capacity and reliability are concerned.
Also in this "energy issue" is an article about the ranking of the energy availability and costs factor by site selectors. The current economic slowdown has presented an opportunity for firms to reassess their energy costs and reliability at their present locations. Some firms have decided to go green with wind power. You can also read about that option in this issue, as well as the idea of using natural light to achieve energy costs savings and human resource benefits in your manufacturing plant.
Additionally, investments in clean energy are great for a company's public image, and might even help good corporate citizens to attract young talent. But, as the consultants tell us, companies cannot risk hitting their operational and profitability objectives just so they can claim they've gone "green."
Nonetheless, any energy proposals that can improve a firm's overall performance should be considered.
If investments in solar, wind, biomass, tidal and other renewable resources are to be the stimulus the U.S. economy needs to get back on a growth track, we must now concentrate on how to fill those "green" jobs - more on that next month.