Who should be the most grateful this year to U.S. taxpayers? Thousands of companies have benefited from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which was distributed through more than 20 U.S. government agencies. Here are some of the largest awards of the Department of Energy's ARRA funds, according to the DOE's most recent list of Recovery Act awardees.
Savannah River Nuclear Solutions
The largest recipient to date of Department of Energy funds via ARRA is not so much green tech as it is cleaning up after old tech. Savannah River Nuclear Solutions manages the Savannah River Site in Aiken, S.C., for the DOE. The 310-square-mile former nuclear weapons manufacturing plant is now a nuclear research and waste disposal facility. The private company was awarded more than $720 million for its transuranic waste and solid waste recovery project, $415 million for decontamination and decommissioning of the site's P and R Area facilities, $235 for soil and groundwater recovery, and $199 million for liquid waste tank infrastructure. It's a total of about $1.5 billion.
The second largest recipient of DOE ARRA funds is another nuclear waste management company. CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Company received $600 million for decontamination and decommissioning of the 75-square-mile Central Plateau of the Hanford Site, a decommissioned nuclear complex in Washington state owned by the Department of Energy. It also received $315 million for its transuranic waste recovery project, and $272 million for a soil and groundwater recovery project. It's a total of almost $1.2 billion.
In August, the DOE announced it would award $1 billion for a "clean coal" and carbon dioxide storage network program called FutureGen 2.0. The project is intended to cut down on the greenhouse gas emissions of existing coal-fueled power plants. Ameren subsidiary Ameren Energy Resources was awarded more than $500 million for its carbon capture and storage project at this power plant (left) in Meredosia, Ill.
Futuregen Industrial Alliance was awarded $404 million for its carbon capture and storage project in Wilmington, Del., and Air Products and Chemicals was awarded $284 for its program in Allentown, Penn.
The Weatherization Assistance Program was also distributed via Department of Energy ARRA funds. Through this program, income-eligible households could receive energy efficiency improvements like caulking, insulation, heating system upgrades, and replacement of old refrigerators with new Energy Star-rated ones. While the plan was countrywide, out of all the U.S. states New York and Texas received the most money for their programs at $395 million and $326 million, respectively.
These two companies are set to build the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, a 392-megawatt project of three interconnected solar plants that will be the largest commercial solar thermal energy project in the world when complete. The project, which will be located 50 miles northwest of Needles, Calif., will consist of BrightSource heliostats that track and focus sunlight directly onto a Luz Power Tower solar boiler, which contains a steam turbine to generate electricity, like the system shown here. While NRG Solar has said it will invest $300 million in the project, the U.S. Department of Energy has given a "conditional commitment" for a $1.375 billion loan guarantee.
Solar projects on federal lands backed with federal dollars
Since Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar approved in October a program to facilitate the use of federal lands for renewable energy projects, the Bureau of Land Management has approved seven large-scale solar projects totaling approximately 3,087 megawatts.
In addition to land use rights and tax credits, companies that begin construction on the project before the end of 2010 are also eligible to receive government loan guarantees for up to 30 percent of the eligible costs of the project through Section 1603 of ARRA. Including eligible tax credits and loan guarantees, funds were awarded to the Amargosa Farm Road Solar Project (more than $1 billion), the Genesis Solar Energy Project ($300 million), the Chevron Lucerne Valley Solar Project($273 million), and Tessera Solar's Imperial Valley Solar Project ($31 million).
In an effort to spur on the research and development of alternative fuel vehicles, ARRA earmarked a total of $1.5 billion for the research, development, and production of auto batteries and related components.
Johnson Controls was one of the largest recipients of that program. It received $299 million, with which it built the Johnson Controls-Saft Meadowbrook facility in Holland, Mich., where it now manufactures batteries for hybrid cars. A123 Systems, meanwhile, received $249 million to build a lithium ion battery manufacturing plant in Michigan.