Obama Administration Continues Commitment to Clean Energy Projects

Government Relations Update - Economic Stimulus

The Obama Administration announced the release of $467.6 million of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) funds for renewable energy projects on Wednesday, May 27. In a statement concerning the obligation of these funds, President Obama said the money, which will be directed towards the solar and geothermal energy industries, represents a down payment on America’s clean energy powered future. According to the President, the funds will allow the solar and geothermal industries to overcome technical barriers that hinder the widespread adoption of the technologies, and support clean energy jobs for years to come.

Geothermal projects will receive most ($350 million) of the $467.6 million. The investment in geothermal technologies will fund geothermal demonstration projects, research on enhanced geothermal systems, the development of innovative geothermal exploration techniques and the creation of a national geothermal data, resource assessment, and classification system. The Department of Energy (DOE) reports that the $350 million in Recovery Act funding will be distributed among the above four goals as follows:

  • $140 million for demonstration projects
  • $80 million for research on enhanced geothermal systems
  • $100 million for the development of innovative exploration techniques
  • $30 million for the creation of a national geothermal data, resource assessment, and classification system.

The DOE will use the remaining $117.6 million to accelerate the commercialization of solar energy technologies. The agency intends to spend $51.5 million on projects aimed at making photovoltaic solar energy cost-competitive with conventional sources of electricity and supporting domestic manufacturers of photovoltaic panels. The DOE has earmarked $40.5 million for solar energy deployment projects that focus on non-technical barriers to solar energy technology deployment. The remainder of the solar energy funds ($25.6 million) will support projects at DOE National Laboratories that work on improving the reliability of concentration solar power technologies.

More information on the disbursement of these funds can be found in the funding opportunity announcements (FOA) released by the DOE.

Department of Defense (DoD)

On May 15, the DoD released its Recovery Act Agency and Program Plans, which detail the agency’s goals and the ongoing implementation effort including:

  1. Agency Plan
  2. Facilities Sustainment, Restoration, and Modernization Program Plan
  3. Military Construction Program Plan
  4. Energy Conservation Investment Program Plan
  5. Near Term Energy-Efficient Technologies Program Plan

The DoD obligated $99.7 million last week, bringing the cumulative Recovery Act total at $459.3 million. Below are the weekly obligation of the individual military services:

  • The Army obligated $33.9 million for contract awards that include multiple Facilities Sustainment, Restoration and Modernization (FSRM) projects at Anchorage, AK, Fort Lee, VA and Fort Knox, KY.
  • The Navy obligated $3.3 million for pre/post award contract support projects.
  • The Air Force obligated $61.4 million for contract awards that include FSRM projects at Eielson Air Force Base (AFB), AK, Kirtland AFB, NM, Robins AFB, GA.

Department of Education

The Department of Education continues to push out State Stabilization Funds and made the following funds available to states:

  • $765 million is now available for Indiana.
  • $111 million is now available for Rhode Island.
  • $635 million is now available for Tennessee.
  • $1 billion is now available for North Carolina.
  • $806 million is now available for Virginia.
  • $666 million is now available for Massachusetts.
  • $672 million is now available for Washington.

Department of Energy

On May 18, Secretary Chu and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke chaired a meeting of industry leaders at the White House to discuss the Smart Grid; they also announced the first set of standards that are needed for the interoperability and security of the Smart Grid and $10 million in Recovery Act funds provided by the Energy Department to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to support the development of these standards; for more information and to submit public comments see:

To successfully review Recovery Act funding applications, the Department has developed an integrated review schedule and are scheduling in 1,500-2,000 reviewers for the summer, drawing on the department, other federal agencies, the national labs, industry groups, and leading colleges and universities.

The Department established a toll free, call-in number for businesses and constituent Recovery Act inquiries, 1-888-DOE-RCVY; questions can also be submitted through DOE's Recovery Act clearinghouse:

Department of Health and Human Services

On May 28, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius announced that HHS will make $2 billion of Recovery Act funding available for community health centers. One quarter of this money will be for construction of new centers, while the remaining money will support capital projects (such as renovations, equipment purchase, etc) at new and existing centers. Secretary Sebelius said that these funds will create or retain 6,500 jobs. She also said that more grants for community health centers will be made available during the summer.

Secretary Sebelius also announced that HHS will augment the Recovery Act funds with $81.7 million from the agency's 2009 budget,. $26 million will be used for expanding capacity at existing community health clinics.

Department of the Interior

On May 21, the Department of the Interior announced that it will invest $15 million from the Recovery Act to fund 55 projects that will reduce hazardous fuels on thousands of acres of federal land to protect communities at risk from wildland fires, support local economies, and rehabilitate ecosystems damaged by wildfire. The projects are located in twelve, mostly western, states. More information on the investment can be found here.

Department of Justice

On May 19, the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) announced 55 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program awards, including 43 local JAG awards and 12 JAG awards to the following states and U.S. territories: Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, Virgin Islands, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

The local solicitation deadline for ARRA JAG funding was extended to June 17, 2009. According to OJP, the previous deadline of May 18 was established in order to encourage early submission of applications. Due to the program’s non-competitive formula, the extended deadline does not impact eligibility or funding determinations.

Department of Labor

The Department of Labor has issued a Training and Employment Notice (TEN) No. 44-08, describing the plans for awarding the discretionary grant "green job training" funds under the Recovery Act so that interested organizations can begin to plan for the application process. The rollout of the Solicitation of Grant Applications is anticipated in June 2009, with application closing dates starting late summer.

Department of Transportation

The Federal Railroad Administration approved eight Amtrak Recovery Act projects totaling $38 million. These projects involve improving stations and upgrading the electrical traction system on the Northeast Corridor and the FRA has now approved approximately $976 million worth of Amtrak projects. The Amtrak projects approved by FRA and funded by the Recovery Act are:

  • Northeast Corridor Mobility First station improvement projects.
  • Mid-Atlantic Division North electrical substation and transformer replacements and repairs.
  • Mid-Atlantic Division South electrical substation and transformer replacements and repairs.
  • New York Division electrical substation and transformer replacements and repairs
  • New England Division station upgrades.
  • West Division station upgrades, and static signs for stations in and outside the Northeast Corridor.

Additionally, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the availability of $1.5 billion in TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Discretionary Grants for capital investment in surface transportation projects. Grants will be awarded on a competitive basis to projects that have a significant impact on the nation, a region or metropolitan area and can create jobs and benefit economically distressed areas.

In an effort to promote transparency, DOT launched new interactive map on May 15th that is posted on the department’s recovery website.

General Services Administration

The following awards totaling $97,622 were made by the GSA during this reporting period:

  • $50,000 for the design review services for HVAC and lighting upgrades of the Minton-Capehart Federal Building in Indianapolis, IN.
  • $44,967 for a structural analysis survey of existing roof capacity to support photovoltaic panels of the Robert Merhige US Courthouse in Richmond, VA.
  • $2,655 to replace existing freezer with Energy Star freezer in the Robert J. Dole US Courthouse in Kansas City, KS.

Notice: The purpose of this newsletter is to identify select developments that may be of interest to readers. The information contained herein is abridged and summarized from various sources, the accuracy and completeness of which cannot be assured. This alert should not be construed as legal advice or opinion, and is not a substitute for the advice of counsel.