A wildly successful program has gotten a breath of new life. Newly available surplus funds, part of the Recovery Act’s Advance Energy Project Credit (48C) program, will re-launch an effort to encourage manufacturers to produce clean energy technology such as solar and wind energy equipment. During the first act of the 48C program, millions of dollars in federal investments helped American manufacturers edge out competition globally and begin to gain a foothold in emerging industries.
The 48C program invested $2.3 billion for qualified investments in advanced, clean energy projects, to support new, expanded, or re‐equipped domestic manufacturing facilities. It leveraged $5.4 billion in private investment, creating jobs and economic growth in communities across the country. In 2009, the funds went to 183 projects across the U.S.
Due to the fact that some facilities failed to use the full funding amount awarded to them, $150 million in additional tax credits has now become available to qualified manufacturing facilities that apply from February 7, 2013 to July 23, 2013.
This week in the State of the Union speech, the President reiterated a push for American manufacturing. “Our first priority is making America a magnet for new jobs and manufacturing. After shedding jobs for more than 10 years, our manufacturers have added about 500,000 jobs over the past three,” said President Obama. Reopening the 48C program is a down payment to that commitment.
Initially, the program generated far more interest than could be met by demand. Qualified applicants exceeded available tax credits by a factor of three to one. Reopening this program again offers up an opportunity to show that once the playing field is level, American manufacturing has a leg up on the global competition.
Programs such as this one have helped to bring about a resurgence in manufacturing. Solar panels and wind turbines are often touted as the front men for clean energy but it goes beyond that. Among other worthy beneficiaries are electric grids and storage for renewables, energy storage systems for electric or hybrid vehicles, equipment for energy conservation, and including lighting and smart grid technologies to name a few.
While releasing an additional $150 million in tax credits will deliver benefits to manufacturing facilities, communities and workers across the country, we must do more. As President Obama, further refines the policies that will generate more and more strength in the American manufacturing sector, Congress should also get on board. Like the auto industry, we won’t stridently accept losses in manufacturing. Rather we will find new ways to evolve and put the hardest and best workers into the clean energy manufacturing jobs of the future.