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California funds US$90m clean and renewable energy

The California Energy Commission (CEC) says its US$90 million ‘Clean Energy Manufacturing Program’ will strengthen the state’s leadership in clean and renewable energy by providing financing to manufacturers.

"California's manufacturing base has eroded 32% since 2001, a loss of over 600,000 manufacturing jobs," says Karen Douglas of the CEC. “In these challenging fiscal times, clean energy products development has become an economic bright spot.”

“Unfortunately, many energy businesses find it difficult to raise the capital required to produce new energy efficiency and renewable energy products and technologies, to create alternative and renewable fuels, and to build new vehicles and vehicle components,” she explains.

“Now, with the help of state and Federal stimulus funds, we will be able to offer funding to support the return of manufacturing jobs to our state.”

The Clean Energy Manufacturing Program will combine two programmes that offer California-based clean and renewable energy companies a combination of financing options including grants, loans, loan guarantees, tax-exempt financing, production incentives, sales tax incentives and credit enhancements.

Programme uses unused ARRA funds

The Clean Energy Business Financing Program uses American Recovery & Reinvestment Act State Energy Program funds to provide US$30.6m in low-interest loans to private companies that improve or expand their renewable energy or energy efficiency manufacturing facilities in California. The Energy Commission received US$226m under the State Energy Program to implement public and private sector programmes.

The second programme, the CEC’s existing Alternative & Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, offers US$59.5m to companies developing renewable and alternative fuels and advanced transportation technologies.

The Clean Energy Manufacturing Program leverages both public and private funds to provide opportunities for industry to adopt new technologies and products that build a clean and renewable energy economy. These projects will rebuild the electricity grid, sustain jobs, retrofit homes and businesses, and eventually produce the future of California's transportation fuels and the vehicles powered by them, the CEC explains.

Loans to be available this spring

The Clean Energy Business Financing Program is in the final stages of development and the CEC expects low-interest loans to be available this spring.

The Alternative & Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program provides funding in four areas for 2010: Biomethane Production (US$21.5m), Ethanol Production Incentives (US$6m), Vehicle & Component Manufacturing (US$19m), and Advanced Biofuel Production (US$13m). The Biomethane Production solicitation notice of award will be announced this month; the remaining three solicitations will be released in April and May.

The loss of manufacturing jobs since 2001 has cost California US$75m a year in lost wages and US$5 billion a year in lost tax revenue, says Douglas.

"Always an energy leader, California has implemented some of the most progressive energy policies in the world," she adds. "All too often, however, we find that our innovative ideas are supporting jobs in other states or other countries.

“By encouraging the creation of manufacturing jobs right here at home, this programme will help California to reclaim some of the most significant benefits of our policies," she notes.

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