Obama commits billions to solar firms

Under pressure to spur job growth, president says two solar energy companies will get nearly $2 billion in U.S. loan guarantees to create as many as 5,000 green jobs.

President Barack Obama, under pressure to spur job growth, said on Saturday two solar energy companies will get nearly $2 billion in U.S. loan guarantees to create as many as 5,000 green jobs.

In his weekly radio and Web address, Obama coupled his announcement with an acknowledgment that efforts to recover from the recession are slow a day after the Labor Department reported that private hiring in June rose by 83,000.

"It's going to take months, even years, to dig our way out, and it's going to require an all-hands-on-deck effort," he said.

All told, 5,000 jobs are expected to be created through use of $1.85 billion in money taken from the $787 billion economic stimulus that Obama pushed through the U.S. Congress in early 2009 over the strenuous objections of Republicans.

Obama announced the Energy Department will award $1.45 billion in loan guarantees to Abengoa Solar to help it build Solona, one of the largest solar generation plants in the world near Gila Bend, Ariz.

Abengoa Solar, headquartered in Lakewood, Colo., is a unit of Spanish renewable energy and engineering company Abengoa SA. In the short term, construction will create some 1,600 jobs in Arizona.

"After years of watching companies build things and create jobs overseas, it's good news that we've attracted a company to our shores to build a plant and create jobs right here in America," Obama said.

Obama said $400 million in loan guarantees will be awarded to Colorado-based Abound Solar Manufacturing to manufacture advanced solar panels at two new plants, creating more than 2,000 construction jobs and 1,500 permanent jobs.

Plant in empty car factory
A Colorado plant is already being constructed and an Indiana plant will be built in what is now an empty Chrysler factory.

The announcement addresses Obama's desire to create jobs related to green technologies.

Obama, whose Democrats are anticipating losses in Nov. 2 congressional elections because of the weak jobs picture, said the steps he is taking "won't replace all the jobs we've lost overnight" and that "I know folks are struggling."

He accused Republicans of blocking a $33 billion extension of unemployment benefits that failed to pass the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

"At a time when millions of Americans feel a deep sense of urgency in their own lives, Republican leaders in Washington just don't get it," Obama said.

Republicans say the problem is Democrats want to pass legislation that would add to the country's debt.

In the Republican response to Obama's address, Senator Saxby Chambliss called the country's $13 trillion debt "one of the most dangerous threats confronting America today."

"At a time when many Americans are clipping coupons and pinching pennies, President Obama and the Democrats in Congress continue to spend money that they--we--do not have," Chambliss said.

 

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