Corporate Heavies Urge Tripling U.S. Clean-Energy Funding

A new council composed of corporate executives is urging the federal government to more than triple investments in clean-energy technologies to boost the nation’s economic competitiveness and protect the environment.

ARPA-EA new council composed of General Electric Co. CEO Jeff Immelt, Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates and other corporate executives is urging the federal government to more than triple investments in clean-energy technologies to boost the nation’s economic competitiveness and protect the environment.

The American Energy Innovation Council, launched in Washington, D.C., wants Congress and the Obama administration to increase the minimum level of investments in clean energy research, development and deployment (RD&D) from $5 billion to $16 billion annually. About $1 billion of the total should support the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or ARPA-E, which Congress authorized without an initial budget but the Obama administration funded with $400 million from the federal stimulus package last year.

“We know from our business experience that if you only give a fraction of what’s required to be a success, you will not be a success,” said council member Chad Holliday, chairman of Bank of America Corp. and former CEO of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.

Joining Holliday, Gates and Immelt on the seven-member council are former Lockheed Martin Corp. Chairman Norm Augustine, Xerox Corp. Chairman and CEO Ursula Burns, Cummins Inc. Chairman and CEO Tim Solso, and noted energy venture capitalist John Doerr, a partner with Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers. The business heavyweights are slated to meet with President Obama and congressional lawmakers later today, Holliday said.

In addition to calling for more clean-tech funding — which should be spread across nuclear fission, solar, wind and fossil fuels and other energy technologies — the council wants Congress to create an energy strategy board. The independent board would be charged with developing and monitoring a national energy plan for Congress and the White House, as well as overseeing what the executives call a new “Energy Challenge Program” for large-scale demonstration projects.

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Source: The New York Times
Photo: ARPA-E