Economic Message of the Week: $600M to Build Renewable Energy Plants

The federal government has announced plans to spend nearly $600 million to help build renewable energy plants.

The government will join forces with private companies to establish 19 biorefinery projects across 15 states, using a combination of stimulus funds and private investments totaling more than $1.2 billion.

The projects, which cover a wide variety of energy sources including wood chips and pond-harvested algae, may portend a time when small alternative fuel facilities dot rural America, according to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

"It is really about bringing a sense of new prosperity to rural communities," Vilsack said. "This is going to make a big difference for America." Energy Secretary Steven Chu added that innovative energy production methods, including those "taking waste material and creating a high value fuel," could create new industries and thousands of new jobs in many areas.

The projects, which are being developed in California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Texas, are considered a model for the rest of the country and other nations.

"The project being rolled out here, we hope, can be rolled out to the rest of the world," said Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH).

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Published: December 10, 2009