Investing in Clean Energy Technologies by the Numbers

President Barack Obama, in his State of the Union, proposed ending $4 billion in tax subsidies for major oil companies and using that money to invest in clean energy technologies and projects focused on R&D and deployment. Below are some of the clean energy programs President Obama proposed during his speech that we could invest in. These programs would make our country more globally competitive, create jobs, and reduce pollution.

$590 million to make the United States the world’s leader in manufacturing and deploying next-generation vehicle technologies. This would include:

  • Changing the current $7,500 tax credit for purchasing electric vehicles into an instant rebate at the time of sale, which would encourage sales.
  • Increase funding for R&D to continue to develop and commercialize advanced batteries for electric vehicles. (The budget for this program is expected to be announced as part of the president’s budget on February 14, 2011.)

$500 million to the Department of Energy to promote advanced manufacturing technologies such as flexible electronics for clean energy components such as batteries and solar cells, and cost-effective ultra-light, ultra-durable materials for automobiles.

$400 million to double funding for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or ARPA-E program designed to promote and fund R&D for potentially game-changing advanced energy technologies. ARPA-E leverages “four private dollars for every dollar that the taxpayers spent to get [projects] rolling.” Last year ARPA-E provided nearly $24 million to six high-tech wind and solar projects that furnished more than $100 million in additional private investment.

$300 million for a “race to the top” pilot program to provide 30 communities with grants for up to $10 million to build electric vehicle recharging infrastructure and improved batteries.

A Better Buildings Initiative program that boosts energy efficiency for commercial buildings through tax breaks and new financing opportunities. (The budget for this program is expected to be announced as part of the president’s budget on February 14, 2011.)

The savings from the Big Oil tax breaks could also help meet education and other energy needs:

$1 million could pay for 18 high school teachers earning an average of $55,000 per year.

$1 million could pay for an annual raise of $10,000 for 100 high-school teachers who earn an average of $55,000 per year.

$1 million could pay for 251 Pell Grants to aspiring college students. These grants are essential to help them pay for tuition. Grants averaged $3,984 in 2011.

$1 million could pay for the installation of 67 home solar energy systems costing an average of $15,000. This would reduce carbon dioxide pollution by 175 metric tons annually.

Emily Bischof is an Intern with the Energy Team at American Progress.