Energy efficiency high on Obama stimulus plan

Economic recovery plans includes spending to make public buildings and schools more energy efficient, while Obama pushes automakers to make rapid changes in fuel efficiency.

President-elect Barack Obama on Saturday said that building energy efficiency is central to his administration's economic recovery plan and outlined the conditions he intends to impose on ailing U.S. automakers.

In his weekly radio address, which is broadcast on YouTube, Obama laid out the planks a government-led spending program meant to revitalize the U.S. economy and create jobs.

"First, we will launch a massive effort to make public buildings more energy-efficient. Our government now pays the highest energy bill in the world. We need to change that. We need to upgrade our federal buildings by replacing old heating systems and installing efficient light bulbs," he said in his radio address.

He also pledged to make federal money available to rebuild roads, upgrade schools to be energy efficient, and expand broadband access to schoolchildren.

The energy plan is expected to include a commitment to upgrade the electricity distribution infrastructure. By equipping the grid with communications network--the essence of smart grid technology--utilities can run the power grid more efficiently and consumers can get information to help lower energy usage.

An aide told the The New York Times that the green collar portion of the stimulus plan could be $100 billion over two years.

Following his radio address, Obama taped an interview which aired on Sunday's edition of Meet the Press.

In response to questions about the plight of U.S. automakers, Obama said that he does not want to allow the financially strapped corporations to collapse because they are the backbone of the manufacturing industry.

However, he said that any federal assistance will come at the price of "significant adjustments from all their stakeholders." He said his advisers are devising ways to keep automakers "feet to the fire," as a bankruptcy court does, to reflect the urgency of change.

"You have seen some progress made incrementally in many of these companies...They are making some investments in the kind of green technologies and new batteries that will let them make plug-in hybrids," Obama said. "What we haven't seen is the sense of urgency and willingness to make tough decisions."

 

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