Notes on the stimulus package

I've been meaning to say something about the energy/climate provisions in Obama's stimulus package, but just hadn't gotten around to it. I also have a post I've been working on that gets into the whole tropical troposphere mess - yeah, I'll get that out some day too.

Anyway, on the stimulus, this post by Jesse Jenkins at Huffington Post does an excellent job of summarizing the key points in the $80 billion that went to energy projects. I agree pretty much with his analysis of the good and the bad there. Some highlights:

A+: The act provides a much-needed, long-term extension of the critical Production Tax Credit that has spurred the booming wind industry, and makes tax credits for wind, solar and other renewable energy sources fully refundable for the next two years.

Absolutely, long-term stability in the tax framework is essential to projects that may take several years to plan and get going. Well done on that - though it should have been a no-brainer with all 50 states pushing for it last year.

A: Approximately $5B has been set aside for energy-efficiency retrofits for low-income housing

Another no-brainer - this saves money for people year after year who really will spend every penny they earn, so now it can go to useful products instead of foreign oil. Well done here, even if it could have been even bigger.

A: Approximately $11B has been set aside to improve the energy efficiency of federal buildings and to provide local governments with block grants for efficiency retrofits

More of the same, wonderful stuff. Building efficiency is a major part of the 40% of CO2 mitigation efforts that will actually provide positive returns without even considering costs of climate change.

A-: Another $4.5B is dedicated to modernizing the electrical grid with up to $11B more devoted to implementing "Smart Grid" demonstrations throughout the US [...]
B: $2B for the Advanced Battery Manufacturing grant program to support the manufacture of advanced vehicles for hybrids, plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.
B-: About $8.5B has been committed for further R&D in both renewable energy and fossil energy (predominantly carbon capture and storage techniques for coal and gas plants).
C+: About $16B has been set aside for new mass transit systems, with about half going to intercity rail lines, including new high speed rail lines, and half going to urban areas for better public transit systems.
F: Just $0.3B for the Energy Star appliance rebate program
F: Another $0.3B has been allocated for the purchase of more alternative-fuel and hybrid vehicles for the federal fleet (including plug-in hybrids if they are available soon).

The lower grades Jenkins gives here are because the funds don't seem close to adequate to the challenges. Nevertheless, the stimulus is only part 1, there's the budget coming too! Anyway, an excellent start on what's needed. Thanks to the administration for pushing this, and Jenkins for summarizing so well.