- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 9, 2010

President Obama on Friday awarded $2.3 billion in tax credits to U.S. companies for projects that spur investment in clean-energy manufacturing and create more jobs in that industry.

“I want the U.S. to be what it has always been, a leader in clean energy,” the president said.

The credits will be divided among 183 companies in 43 states and is part of the administration’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Among the winning projects were those related to hybrid vehicles, improving electric grids and renewable-energy equipment.

At least 16 projects involve wind turbines, including one by Mitsubishi Power Systems Americas Inc. in Fort Smith, Ark., that got $5.1 million in credits.

Mr. Obama said the U.S. led the world in clean-energy technology only to fall behind to China, German and Japan in such fields as solar power and making batteries for electric cars.

“I’m confident we can regain the lead,” he said.

The administration said the program, known as Section 48C, will generate 17,000 more jobs on the same day the Labor Department reported the U.S. economy lost 85,000 jobs last month.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said earlier in the day the government report was “disappointing” and acknowledged the jobs created by the tax-credit program was only a step toward replacing the roughly 7 million lost since the recession started in December 2007.

“We are in a tough economic climate,” he said. “We knew this was going to be a long road.”

Said Mr. Obama: “This is a reminder that the road to recovery is never straight. And for most Americans, including me, that means jobs.”

Administration officials said more than 500 companies applied for the credits and that the program should significantly increase U.S. exports in clean-energy products such as energy-efficient windows and lighting.

The officials also said the overwhelming response by companies shows U.S. companies are moving more toward clean-energy manufacturing so they have asked Congress for an additional $5 billion to expand the program.

The projects had to be completed by February 17, 2009, and running by February 2013. The administration said some of the projects are finished and operating.

The criteria for the winning projects included whether they were commercial viability, could create domestic jobs and could reduce air pollution and greenhouse-gas emissions.

Administration officials said the program also includes $5.4 billion in private investment that will generate an additional 41,000 jobs.

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