Solyndra a Model of Why the U.S. Won’t Be a Contender in the New World Order

Going green has lost quite a bit if traction in the U.S. because of some really outrageous spin and it would appear the oil/gas industry and their lackey’s in congress to be the culprits. Despite the fact we can see climate change with our own eyes, and that some of the giants in the oil industry admitted greenhouse gas contributes to climate change, we’re heading toward more fossil fuel production with gas fracking and tar sands oil at the top of the list. Friends of fossil fuel have jumped on the Solyndra bandwagon of failure as some sort of omen that green start-ups are too risky, and therefore, unworthy business models in the U.S. during a time of renewed “drill and frack” mentality. But Solyndra is a model of a much more ominous nature. Solyndra’s failure is not due to an innovation that had no place in the market, or mishandling of funds, or was too costly compared to the competition, or because it was a vehicle of some underhanded exchange of money for political gain. While conspiracies abound around the name “Solyndra” the biggest problem Solyndra had to overcome was CHINA, one of the four new and fastest growing world economies. No the U.S. is not on that short list.  We’ll never make it at all if we continue on the path of fossil fuel for energy and stall moving forward quickly with green innovation.

Don’t get me wrong. China is indeed destined to get most of that tar sand oil from Canada, and so it is in the big fossil fuel burning category of nations. But China also continues to be a mixed bag for its energy sources and moving more and more quickly into the green foray. China recently emerged as KING of solar panel producers exporting its solar panel wares worldwide in numbers far greater than its competitors. But how did this happen you say and so quickly? And how come a company like Solyndra that barely came out of the ground went under so quickly? Surely there was a market for solar just look at China.

Just about all the reporting relative to Solyndra from ABC, to Fox, to numerous websites has been false and totally out of context, the main one being that it is Obama’s baby. Truth is Solyndra began in 2005 with a sound standing in the field of solar panels. Solyndra was the leader in innovation for solar. While standard solar panels look like flat screen monitors and utilize costly silicon in their photovoltaics (sun’s energy converted to direct current), Solyndra’s solar panels sported a tubular design that didn’t utilize silicon chips at all.

Solyndra’s solar panels are made up of 40 individual modules, wired in parallel for high current, which capture sunlight across a 360-degree photovoltaic surface capable of converting direct, diffuse and reflected sunlight into electricity. Using innovative cylindrical copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS modules) and thin-film technology, Solyndra systems are designed to be able to provide the lowest system installation costs on a per watt basis for the commercial rooftop market. More than 1000 Solyndra systems are installed around the world, representing nearly 100 Megawatts.

Lightweight: Low Distributed Load of 2.8 lbs. per Square Foot

Designed to Last for More than 25 Years

Easier and Cheaper Installation

Superior Wind Performance: Ideal for Windy Locations

Greater and More Effective Rooftop Coverage

Design Keeps Panels and Roofs Cooler

From 2005 to late 2009, Solyndra panels were in the ballpark cost wise with standard solar panel manufacturers. Solyndra’s  founder  Dr. Christian Gronet earned a Ph.D. in semiconductor processing and a bachelor of science degree in Materials Science from Stanford University and was Vice President and General Manager of the Transistor, Capacitor and Gate product group at Applied Materials for 11 years.   According to their website, “Applied Materials is the global leader in providing innovative equipment, services, and software to the semiconductor, flat panel display, and solar photovoltaic industries.

Solyndra had no problem raising over $78 million in venture capital quickly. From Climate Progress and verified by the DOE: “Solyndra raises its first round of venture financing worth $10.6 million from CMEA Capital, Redpoint Ventures, and U.S. Venture Partners. In October, Argonaut Venture Capital, an investment arm of George Kaiser, invests $17 million into Solyndra. Madrone Capital Partners, an investment arm of the Walton family, invests $7 million. Those investments are part of a $78.2 million fund.”

Funding came from the Right, the Left, and everywhere in between.

At about the same time Solyndra began, the Bush Administration’s Energy Policy Act of 2005 was initiated. Section 1703 seemed an ideal match for a company like Solyndra as follows: “Section 1703 of Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 authorizes the U.S. Department of Energy to support innovative clean energy technologies that are typically unable to obtain conventional private financing due to high technology risks.” The emphasis here is on the word “risk.”

In 2006, Solyndra applied for a DOE loan under Section 1703. Late 2007 the loan program was funded and Solyndra was on the list for a loan. According to Energy Sec’y Sam Bodman at that time: “The Energy Department had received 143 pre-applications for the guarantees and narrowed the list down to 16 finalists — including Solyndra.” Why was Solyndra mentioned that way, as if singled out? According to, “Bush’s Energy Department apparently adjusted its regulations to make sure that Solyndra would be eligible for the guarantees. It hadn’t originally contemplated including the photovoltaic-panel manufacturing that Solyndra did but changed the regulation before it was finalized. The only project that benefited was Solyndra’s.” Hmmm—heavy Republican investors or what? The Bush Administration, as I often blogged about back then, was not exactly green by any stretch of the word. However, it was late 2007 and 2008 meant a new presidential race. Being able to tout investment in alternative energy might appeal to some independent voters. Whatever the case, this loan program and its admittance of Solyndra on the list was a decision made during the Bush Administration.

By 2008, Solyndra planned on building 2 new facilities in the U.S., and private investment in Solyndra reached an accumulated $450 million. It still looked like a great venture. Prices for silicon remained high and Solyndra’s costs were still competitive. But by late 2008, the loan still hadn’t been approved. According to

January 2009: In an effort to show it has done something to support renewable energy, the Bush Administration tries to take Solyndra before a DOE credit review committee before President Obama is inaugurated. The committee, consisting of career civil servants with financial expertise, remands the loan back to DOE “without prejudice” because it wasn’t ready for conditional commitment.

March 2009: The same credit committee approves the strengthened loan application. The deal passes on to DOE’s credit review board. Career staff (not political appointees) within the DOE issue a conditional commitment setting out terms for a guarantee.

Once taxpayer money was involved, the Obama administration was reluctant to let Solyndra fail. reported:

June 2009: As more silicon production facilities come online while demand for PV (photovoltaics) wavers due to the economic slowdown, silicon prices start to drop. Meanwhile, the Chinese begin rapidly scaling domestic manufacturing and set a path toward dramatic, unforeseen cost reductions in PV. Between June of 2009 and August of 2011, PV (photovoltaic) prices drop more than 50%.

Some reports suggested that President Obama was warned several times via email that the deal was risky. On the contrary, Media Matters stated:

There was no email to Obama that the deal wasn’t ready for prime time relative to financial risk. Instead Email Concerned Timing Of Announcement, Not The Merit Of The Loan Guarantee.[] The email argued that ‘This deal is NOT ready for prime time’ because there were more steps to be completed before the loan guarantee could be finalized — namely, OMB had to review the credit rating and Solyndra needed to raise an additional $200 million in private capital. [House Energy and Commerce Republicans,9/14/11]

The merit of the loan guarantee lies with the OMB or Office of Management and Budget.

  • OMB reviews and must approve credit subsidy cost estimates for all loan and loan guarantee programs, including the credit subsidy cost estimates generated by DOE for the Title XVII program, to ensure that costs are accounted for appropriately.
  • OMB assesses cost estimates on a loan-by-loan basis because the Title XVII program provides relatively large-dollar guarantees and because their characteristics, terms, and risks vary greatly from project to project.
  • OMB delegates the modeling of credit subsidy costs to agencies, and issues implementing guidance to ensure consistent and accurate estimates of cost.
  • OMB works closely with agencies to create or revise credit subsidy models for new programs or programs issuing their first loans or loan guarantees, such as the Title XVII program in 2009,
  • Based on these models, OMB reviews and exercises final approval authority over credit subsidy costs to ensure that the costs of direct loans and loan guarantees are presented, and reflect estimated risks, consistently across Federal agencies so that taxpayer funds are invested in a prudent and effective fashion.
  • The final decision on whether to issue the loan or guarantee rests with the agency implementing the applicable program – DOE in the case of Title XVII.

By September 2009 Solyndra raised the money, an additional $219 million dollars and the $535 million loan from the DOE went through. Around one billion dollars had been invested in Solyndra, the bigger portion coming from the private investment sector. The Walton’s (the Wal-Mart family) Madrone Capital Partners and the Kaiser Foundation’s Argonaut Venture Capital, the Right and Left money respectively, being the biggest investors.

At this point, early 2010, China trumped everyone in the solar game “dump[ing] $30 billion into its solar industry. That is a lot of money for infrastructure as well as research and development. There is little doubt that the companies making solar panels in China benefited from the money.”

However, China did so in violation of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which prohibits government subsidies for corporations/businesses that plan to export. To do so allows that country to possibly corner the worldwide market in any segment, which China has done with solar panels. The thinking goes this way. A corporation is limited in growth if all its goods and services remain in the country. In the U.S., a corporation is limited by the fact that we only have 300 million people and consumers are only going to buy so many goods/services over a period of time. But if that same corporation decides to export—the sky is the limit. So for any government to heavily subsidize a corporation that also plans to export, tips the playing field badly on competition that can’t possibly keep up. Since China has over 3 times our population the playing field is already tipped to say the least. The $30 billion dollar Chinese “illegal” dump into the solar industry was a death knell for Solyndra.

It’s not unforeseen or unusual that from December 2010 through February 2011, the two largest private investors, DOE, and Solyndra “negotiated the terms and conditions of an agreement to restructure the Solyndra loan guarantee. Throughout this process, DOE consulted with OMB about the proposed terms and conditions of this arrangement.” NY Times: Experts Said DOE’s Decision To Restructure “Is Routine In The Commercial World.” From a September 16, New York Times article

By the end of February 2011,

  • Both Argonaut and Madrone added a combined $69 million in emergency funds to Solyndra.
  • DOE agreed to extend the term of Solyndra’s loan guarantee from seven to 10 years, and to postpone the first repayment installment by one year, from 2012 to 2013.
  • In addition, the agreement provided that, in the event of the company’s liquidation before 2013, the investors have the senior secured position with respect to the first $75 million recovered. In this case, it is not the full $75 million but rather the $69 million in emergency funds as stated, “The two firms gave the company a total of $69 million in emergency loans. The loans are the only portion of their investments that have repayment priority above the U.S. government. [Associated Press,9/16/11].
  • DOE has the second senior secured position with respect to the next $150 million recovered in liquidation. This is taxpayer money
  • If Solyndra had not liquidated or declared bankruptcy by 2013, the investors would have lost their senior secured position to DOE. [House Energy and Commerce Committee, 9/12/11]

Media Matters further stated that the decision to fund Solyndra, which in turn built brand new state of the art facilities, is in much better shape to garner more when they liquidate. “DOE determined, as part of the restructuring, that the facility would be more valuable, even in the event of a future liquidation, once complete.” He went on to say that “DOE determined that restructuring the loan guarantee gave the U.S. taxpayer the best chance of being repaid”

So there you have it. Advanced solar technology like Solyndra had a foothold in the industry when it began 7 years ago, but failed during the slow, slow process of funding during which time a giant like China decided to dump an “unforeseen” 30 billion into the solar panel industry in a very short time. Did they know about Solyndra? China’s panels are ho hum standard cheap, nowhere near the innovation of Solyndra. It’s a shame we have segments of our population that scream about government helping new industry get a start when our competition does it all the time. It’s not socialism by any stretch, especially when it’s about energy and infrastructure. It’s investment in the U.S. future if we’re going to compete with the likes of China, India, Russia, or Brazil—the top 4 economic powers now. Government certainly needs to rethink  trade agreements too now that we know how China plans to play the game.


Lake Erie Wind Farm Coming Soon

According to an article on

Lake Erie is about to join Cape Cod in hosting one of the first offshore wind farms in the United States. For a while now, plans have been underway to construct a wind power site on the Great Lakes after a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between GE Energy and the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation. Then earlier this month Ohio Governor Ted Strickland announced that there were plans for the development of five wind turbines on Lake Erie to generate 20 megawatts of power by 2012, with additional turbines to generate 1,000 megawatts by 2020.

It may not be much as far as freshwater farms, but it’s a start. Most of the problem has been citizen’s complaints that the turbines will ruin the view and/or tourism, which doesn’t appear to be true. As a matter of fact, one of the most beautiful places I can think of is Oahu, Hawaii’s north shore. On a point where the road turns from the northern end of the island and heads down the east coast is a bluff that boasts wind turbines. They’ve been there for years. I find it to be a serene sight. Wind turbines represent our willingness to help the planet. Something about this picture in Timon Singh’s article about Lake Erie’s wind farm represents that serenity. wind energy hurt tourism in my area.

Like anything new naysayers have warned that whole economic sectors will collapse if we change too quickly. I read an interesting article about that. It went back to other inventions that were touted to be the ruination of huge industries. Those predictions never panned out, and as a matter of fact, the industries that were supposed to go under not only benefited but adopted the new changes in a big way. One example: seat belts. According to the article when seat belts were first considered, naysayers claimed it would ruin the auto industry:

Does anyone remember their bitter lamentations over automobile seat belts? If the auto industry was to be believed, passage of regulations requiring seat belts would prompt Americans to become a nation of lawbreakers and to abandon their cars, collapsing the auto industry. Twenty-six states passed mandatory laws, seat belts save an estimated 15,000 lives a year, and the auto industry now runs ads promoting its safety equipment, having found — gasp! — that consumers want more safety.

The same goes for naysayers relative to energy progress. We hand out $36 billion in subsidies to the oil industry to drill, and one wind energy project in California gets 1.2 billion this year. And it will be the largest in the U.S. Who thinks that’s fair, especially when big oil is going to drill anyway?

Even though wind power funding lags behind and wind power has slowly progressed, wind turbines have already improved. Gearboxes have been replaced by magnets, making the turbines much lighter and improving efficiency. They turn more easily in much lower winds. We really do need new innovation to reduce the size of wind turbines. Like many environmentally minded people, I see there is a finite end to just how many of these large turbines we can actually erect across the country. There simply isn’t enough land. But, I’ve reminded readers that until we actually unleash new alternatives we simply will not advance quickly to smaller, more efficient, and cheaper alternatives. Think digital watches, portable radios, laptaps. The precursors to all of these products were huge and/or expensive and/or unreliable.

I know. I worked on keypunch machines before the computer terminal. Looking back that was so archaic. Then I worked on a computer terminal in 1974 in U of M’s personnel dept. That system would dump everything we did the prior week for whatever reason. We would walk in on Monday morning with the bad news all had to be input again. It was so unreliable that we continued to type 4-5 carbon copies AND input the same info into the system on a daily basis. The main frame for that system took up an entire room. I marvel the way our cell phones have morphed into the pc’s of the future. To think we will hurt the U.S. economy with more opportunities in that economy is convoluted thinking. Competition is supposed to be the back bone of the free market, if there is a free market when it comes to energy.

Read more:

About Lake Erie’s Wind Farm

About Doomsayers and New Innovation:

About Improved Wind Turbines


Powerful Investors Demand Climate Change Action Immediately

Today, a group of U.S., European, and Australian investors who “represent $13 trillion in assets, called for “a price on carbon emissions” and “well-designed carbon markets” to provide “a cost-effective way of achieving emissions reductions,” according to an article on ENS.

They cited the fact that “some 85 percent of the financial resources needed to cope with climate challenges must come from private sources. In effect, the battle over climate change will be won – or lost – in the hands of private investors.” But they also recanted that no one will put a foot forward without governments playing a role. Policies create a stable investment environment. Only policy can make clean energy cost-competitive with fossil fuel.

The investors claim they and others like them are ready to stoke clean energy investments if governments begin to implement strong policies and quickly. It seems they are encouraged by the fact that China, India, and the U.S. came to a verbal agreement in Copenhagen, but they want more and now. What is needed most from national and state legislatures is “transparency, longevity and certainty.” That would be a strong RPS as far as the states are concerned. Michigan doesn’t have one as yet thanks to our Republican Senate who trashed that effort at the last minute. It wasn’t even a strong RPS, but it was better than none at all.

These guys aren’t fooling around. As stated: “We underscore the importance of concluding a legally-binding agreement this year with comprehensive long-term measures for mitigation, forest protection, adaptation, finance, and technology transfer, including a global emission reduction target of 50-85% by 2050, consistent with estimates from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

They are investors after all and they estimate that transforming to clean energy is completely doable.

In their statement, the investors observed that the costs of action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are “both affordable and significantly lower than the costs of inaction.” [] The UNFCCC Secretariat estimates that more than $200 billion in total additional investment capital for mitigation is required each year by 2030 just to return greenhouse gases to their current levels by then.

The International Energy Agency estimates that additional investment of $10.5 trillion is needed globally in just the energy sector from 2010-2030 to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases at around 450 parts per million, the investors noted.

This equates to roughly 0.1% of the total value of world financial assets and approximately 0.23% of the total value of debt and equity securities, so this is certainly an achievable level of investment – and one that would yield returns in terms of energy savings, energy security, reduced capital expenditures for pollution control, and avoided climate damages, they said. But it is also well above current investment levels.

So there you have it. People with deep pockets other than OIL/COAL/LUMBER that want to go green “yesterday.”

Read the article:


Detroit Makes 5 Best Cities for Green Jobs List

I’ve been reading about green jobs and a growing green sector in Michigan but I never ran across a real tally of just how many jobs have been created within a given time span until I read that Detroit made, “The 5 Best Cities for Green Jobs” list per an article on the

Like the article said, Detroit seldom makes the top ten list of anything, but it seems that the Motor City and Michigan in general are slowly pulling ahead on the green front. I just didn’t know how well we are actually doing in Michigan. The article reports:

Michigan lost 3.6% of its jobs between 1998 and 2007, but clean jobs were a bright spot: Some 1,932 new clean businesses were started, offering 22,674 jobs. Some $55 million in venture capital was invested between 2006 and 2008. The state was 10th in the nation in adding new jobs in conservation and pollution mitigation in 2007.

It went on to say that the 22,000 plus “jobs numbers will jump impressively when the 2009 DOE funding puts spades in the ground.” Michigan is slated to receive a nice chunk in the form of green-tech grants from the federal DOE, which is meant to fund factories and create jobs for a “vast pool of skilled auto talent in the metropolitan area.” And the Ford Wixom Plant’s sale to Xtreme Power that makes power systems for wind and solar, and Clairvoyant Energy, a solar energy company, should result in even more green jobs all around.

It appears Governor Granholm’s vision of diversifying Michigan’s economy is coming to fruition. A little over a year ago in December 08, the governor signed legislation that helped Michigan’s No Worker Left Behind job retraining program that she initiated in 2007.

As of 2008, 31,000 Michiganders participated in the No Worker Left Behind program with 11,000 completing it. One of the companies to benefit greatly from the retraining program was Demmer Corporation that hired 1300 retrainees to its staff. Demmer creates and executes “world-class engineering and manufacturing solutions” in the defense, aerospace, and automotive industries,” according to its website.

If we hang tight, we can accomplish great things for Michigan. There is a link in the article for green jobs available in Michigan.

Read more:


Rep to Introduce Legislation in MI House to Allow Loans to Citizens by Local Governments for Renewable Energy Devices

According to a blog on Michigan Liberal and a brief article on, Representative Joel Sheltrown of West Branch planned to introduce legislation in the MI House today that would “allow local units of government to issue bonds to provide for loans to homeowners and businesses located within their jurisdiction for renewable energy production and energy efficiency improvements.” The bill concentrates on sun, wind, and geothermal energy production. And energy efficiency improvements include federal Energy Star qualifying improvements affixed to the structure.
Important points about the bill:

  • It’s voluntary. The decision to issue loans is up to local governments
  • The process for distributing loans under the bonds is also left to the local unit of government
  • The loans would not exceed a 20-year re-payment period
  • The interest rate on the loans would not be more than 0.5% higher than the interest rate on the bond.
  • The loan is qualified through the property rather than the owner’s credit rating
  • Repayment of the loan would be made through winter and summer property taxes and would remain with the property in the event of a sale.
  • The loan is qualified through the property not the owner’s credit rating so that more homeowner’s and businesses would qualify.
  • Homeowner’s and businesses would perform more energy improvements.
  • Property owners would generate their own renewable energy
  • The need for manufacturing, service, contracting, and building jobs in the green sector would increase from demand.
  • This bill does not impact the state as far as money because the only caveat for property owners—no state tax credit for any of this. And the loan programs are not dependent on state budget support.

This bill could lead to property owner’s earning a percentage of all excess energy they produce beyond their own needs, as it should be. It’s one heck of an incentive to move forward on renewable energy. Germany has a solar program that is similar. The government offers cash incentives for solar or wind devices. Property owners earn a percentage of what they produce.

Imagine getting money back for energy instead of paying a recurring monthly bill that restricts us from being as cool as we would like or as warm? Conservation spurs innovation. No one likes to cut back do they? We do so out of conscience. But if someone comes up with a way around it, we’re in.

Read the whole blog by Brady about the new House Bill:


House Climate Bill Meets Senate Committee Bill

Although most of the media centered on the House Climate Bill recently, this past June the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved a comprehensive energy package S 1462 that is pretty much the same ole, same ole conservative twist on energy. S 1462 includes:

· Clean Energy Deployment Administration – provides for increased capitalization of clean energy projects;
· Oil and gas – opens portions of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, including Destin Dome, to oil and gas leasing, and establishes a one-stop permitting office in Alaska for offshore leasing in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas;
· Alaska natural gas pipeline – increases federal loan guarantee for the developers of a gas pipeline project from $18 billion to $30 billion, and allows access to the Federal Financing Bank;
· Energy workforce development – provides assistance to institutions of higher learning and community colleges that place an emphasis on energy jobs and help train the energy workers of the future;
· Energy efficiency – establishes new efficiency standards for several consumer products and makes changes that will allow standards to be updated more often and be market driven;
· Renewable electricity standard – requires utilities to generate 15 percent of their electricity with renewable energy by 2021, and contains consumer off-ramps for increased costs and the opportunity to petition for a variance due to transmission constraints, includes expanded definition of biomass, eligible hydropower and removes nuclear uprates from the baseline;
· Nuclear – provides clear statement of the federal government’s support for nuclear energy, as well as encourages resolution of the spent nuclear fuel issue.
· Transmission – addresses planning and siting of electrical transmission infrastructure by encouraging states to develop plans and giving FERC backstop siting authority, ties cost allocation to benefits;
· Cyber security – increases authority for both FERC and the Department of Energy to protect the nation’s electrical grid from cyber security threats and vulnerabilities;
· Carbon sequestration – allows for indemnification of up to 10 demonstration projects;
· Modification of Section 526 – allows the government, and in particularly the military, to purchase Canadian tar sand oil.

Either the two bills will collide, and end up being much ado about nothing, or meld into a bill everyone can work with notwithstanding industry lobbyists who would like all to remain status quo even though the math doesn’t add up. We use a quarter of the world’s oil, and only have 3% of the world’s oil stores. When we get into tar sand oil, the price of producing the stuff and the pollution it produces is ridiculous to even bring up in an environmental conversation. We need to move along to sustainable, renewable energy and soon.

The idea is to use as little as necessary of the old fossil fuels in the interim process of the shift to alternatives while we concentrate on funding technology that has been squeeze played for quite awhile. And what are some of the technologies that have been held up? It’s been over a year since I blogged about Centia, a process that uses restaurant sludge grease and converts it to jet fuel and other fuels at the molecular level. This fuel can be ready to go in less than 2 years if it gets proper funding. See what I mean? What’s the stall? There is a never-ending supply of restaurant grease the way America likes to eat. And what about algae for fuel? I blogged about that too. Some mighty fine progress is being made along those lines,, but again its overlooked in the media and subject to conservative spin that it costs too much or will cost jobs. I’ve even run across someone wondering where we’re going to grow all the algae? Duh–pond scum, some of that stuff can regenerate in 24 hours in the right bog.

I thought we knew by now that anything brand new costs more. Look at mainframe computers back in the 70’s compared to laptops, or digital watches, or radios. We can buy a digital watch or radio in the dollar store now. I bought a dollar store radio for my sister in a nursing home. I couldn’t believe the sound I got out that little plastic thing when I put the earphones on. Unbelievable.

The ingenuity of invention that transpires when something is finally unleashed from the grasp of the status quo is unbelievable and could put the U.S. in a position of industrial leadership again. And that’s how I and many others picture the future. Superceding fossil fuels isn’t a downfall, but an opportunity. We’ll be saying the word, “unbelievable” about a lot of things we invent like running our cars, and heating our homes with restaurant grease or algae, or solar, or wind. Alternative energy is a diverse and growing market. If anything our environment will be a lot quieter.

Read more about both bills:


Labor Unions Celebrate Earth Week

The Apollo Alliance, a coalition of labor, business, environmental, and community leaders are working to jump-start a clean energy revolution. They know that it will produce millions of jobs and help the economy. Apollo Alliance claims the Apollo Space program as its inspiration to “promote investments in energy efficiency, clean power, mass transit, next-generation vehicles, and emerging technology, as well as in education and training. Working together, we will reduce carbon emissions and oil imports, spur domestic job growth, and position America to thrive in the 21st century economy.”

That’s a real “we can” attitude. Among Apollo Alliance’s partners “focused on generating green collar jobs” are the nation’s union halls. The union program is called Earth Week in the Union Halls. It launched Saturday, April 18th with the goal of creating support from unions on a national level for clean energy investments and green collar job training.

The weeklong event of the participating 70 union halls nationwide will host the movie “The Greening of Southie” that I blogged about recently with video of the trailer. The DVD documents the trials of renovating an old Boston building into a green Boston building by union construction crews.

The Apollo Alliance website has quite a long article titled “How to Find a Green Job” that states:

The New Apollo Program is a comprehensive economic investment strategy to build America’s 21st century clean energy economy and dramatically cut energy bills for families and businesses. It will generate and invest $500 billion over the next ten years and create more than five million high quality green-collar jobs. It will accelerate the development of the nation’s vast clean energy resources and move us toward energy security, climate stability, and economic prosperity. And it will transform America into the global leader of the new green economy.

I’m impressed. And I know there are at least two big-time alliances like Apollo working toward the same goal. The article goes on to say that Americans are at a crossroads. Do we keep going with our outdated fossil fuel ideas that will ultimately come to an end some time in the future while putting us at greater and greater risk for severe climate conditions, or do we seize this time as an opportunity for change for the better. We will be healthier as a result of the earth becoming a healthier place. It’s really up to us.

We’re not doing so well now anyway. People are looking for new jobs and are willing to relocate. Many have little to nothing left because of the economic crunch while others have been victims of devastation from increasingly violent weather conditions already. Still others are looking ahead for their children’s health and well-being. What better time to change? And that’s what America decided in the last election. We just need to move forward and keep moving forward—no looking back.

The Apollo article and website might be helpful for many. There is much more to read at:


One Million Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles on the Road by 2015

According to a current article on ENS, Environmental News Service, “President Barack Obama Thursday announced $2.4 billion in economic stimulus funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” that is meant to meet his goal of putting one million plug-in hybrid vehicles on the road by 2015. The DOE, Dept. of Energy, is also offering $1.5 billion in grants for U.S. manufacturers to produce the batteries for the plug-ins, $500 million in grants for U.S. manufacturers to produce the electric motors and other components, along with a kicker $400 million to “demonstrate and evaluate plug-in hybrids and other electric infrastructure concepts” like charging stations, and the people who will work on these new cars. The DOE plans to further support projects that help develop this market further.

So it looks like plug-ins are on their way. The bonus is that consumers get a piece of the pie too. Purchasing a plug-in hybrid will get us a tax credit of up to $7,500. But, we’re going to need a new electric infrastructure all right. Our power grids are 50 years old.

This is good news for me. A lot of what I hear is good news for me like giving me $5000 to get my gas hog off the road, then turning around and giving me the $7,500 tax credit for going with a plug-in. There is no need to twist my arm because I think the Chevy Volt is sweet, but I’ll take any and all offers to get me moving toward buying a green car in the very near future.

But of course, as of right now, the $5000 for a trade-in isn’t solid, this new stimulus to create plug-in cars has just been announced, and GM, the creator of the sweet little Volt I would like, is still struggling in this economy. Meanwhile my gas-guzzler is really getting old. I don’t feel guilty for driving it because it only leaves the driveway twice a week, three times tops. I consolidate everything to minimalize running around. But I’m beginning to notice a time lag from when I turn the key and the ignition actually strikes. This tells me my time with my old car is limited and I probably won’t make it to the era of the plug-in without buying another car first. It figures.

Read more:


Obama Announces Task Force for Green Jobs for the Middle Class

President Obama just announced he will have a task force lead by VP Joe Biden that will focus on green jobs for the middle class. Biden presented this website where the public can get information The task force will be in the form of monthly meetings the first to be held is in Philadelphia on Feb. 27.

According to MSNBC, Biden said the jobs “pay well, can’t be outsourced and will help us move to a cleaner, more self-sufficient energy future.” Sounds good. Get moving.

The areas of green job expansion coincide with Obama’s stimulus package. The article stated that “utilities could enlist workers to build a more powerful and efficient energy grid, and developers could build more energy efficient homes, offices and schools by weatherizing them or building new structures to green codes.” The auto industry is expected to retool itself also.

Funny but I could swear I caught Republicans complaining about unnecessary spending in Obama’s stimulus package while referring to money for infrastructure projects, updating schools, and our parks. If updating power grids, schools, bridges, and helping our parks that have been sold to the devil by the past administration is pork barrel, than what was funding for the bridge and road to nowhere?

The article went on to say that “some Republican lawmakers have backed the focus on green jobs, but others question whether the government should be trying to direct the economy.” What? How about handing Wall St. billions without any oversight, and repeating that action, while singling out American automakers by threatening a Czar that would tell the auto companies how to operate? Wouldn’t the government then be directing an entire major manufacturing sector of our economy?

The operative word here is “self righteous” relative to partisanship.







Michigan As Hybrid Battery Epicenter?


According to WXYZ News today, Governor Granholm signed a bill for $335 million in tax incentives beginning in 2011 thru 2016 that is “designed to make Michigan the center of U.S. efforts to develop high-tech batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles.”


It was approved 31-3 in the Senate and 94-0 in the House. Finally a green business move that our senate didn’t nix, although I don’t think it was the idea of going green that motivated Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop. It was more about helping the Detroit auto industry. The bill is designed with GM in mind relative to its plug-in hybrid “Volt.” It will ensure that all Volt related activities remain in Michigan.


At present there is no large-scale lithium-ion battery manufacturing in the U.S. This just shows how far behind we are on many green fronts. Japan, South Korea, INDIA and CHINA do all the manufacturing. The fact that India and China are ahead of us should be a warning to “catch up” fast.


And that’s what Governor Granholm hopes to do now that she has a little cooperation from what looked to be for a long time “anti-environmental” senate. She hopes Michigan will “become a battery epicenter and draw a piece of an estimated $1 billion investment from the federal government.”


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