04/03/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Obama's 2011 budget: what's in it for the clean energy sector

President Obama unveiled his 2011 budget today requesting from Congress a multi-trillion dollar spending plan for the federal government.  The spending bill is seeking a record-breaking $1.56 trillion to help boost America's flagging economy and there is significant funds earmarked for clean energy investment and "greebn" job creation.

Commenting today on the 2011 budget proposal, Secretary of Energy, Stephen Chu said that:

"The President's budget cuts wasteful spending while making wise investments in innovation and clean energy that will put Americans back to work, save families money and keep our nation competitive in the global marketplace This budget supports new approaches to energy research and invests in the next generation of scientists and engineers, and it will spark new clean energy projects nationwide, including restarting the American nuclear power industry."

You can check out all the details on the Office of Management and Budget page, but I want to highlight for you some of the specific spending in the package relating directly to the clean energy sector.

Department of Energy

Under spending for the US Department of Energy, the 2011 budget provides for $28.4 billion in spending overall to support the DOE mandate, which is to, "support scientific innovation, develop clean and secure energy technologies, maintain national security, and reduce environmental risk." Funds earmarked for clean energy include:

  • $500 million in credit subsidy to support $3 billion to $5 billion in loan guarantees for innovative energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
  • $144 million for research, development, and demonstration activities to modernize the grid including smart-grid technologies that will spur the transition to a smarter, more efficient, secure and reliable electric system, resulting in energy- and cost-saving choices for consumers, reduced emissions, and growth of renewable energy sources.
  • $4.7 billion in clean energy technology investments at DOE, including:
    • Nearly $2.4 billion, an increase of $113 million, for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs including $302 million for solar energy, $220 million for biofuels and biomass R&D, $325 million for advanced vehicle technologies, and $231 million for energy efficient building technologies.
    • $545 million for advanced coal climate change technologies to focus resources to develop carbon capture technologies with broad applications to advanced coal power systems, existing power plants, and industrial sources.
    • $300 million for the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy to accelerate game-changing energy technologies in need of rapid and flexible experimentation or engineering.
    • $793 million for clean energy activities and civilian nuclear energy programs, including research and development and infrastructure programs. The budget includes a new cross-cutting research program to address technology needs for all aspects of nuclear energy production.
  • Phase-out funding for inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that impede investment in clean energy sources and undermine efforts to deal with the threat of climate change.

Department of the Interior

The DOI's overall budget for 2011 will remain the same, and there is $73 million earmarked, "to build agency capacity to review and permit renewable energy projects on federal lands.  DOI has set a goal to permit at least 9,000 megawatts of new solar, wind, and geothermal electricity generation capacity on DOI-managed lands by the end of 2011."

Department of Labor

$85 million is earmarked for, "green job training, providing support for about 14,000 participants."

Environmental Protection Agency

Under the Environmental Protection Agency, the main regulatory body for environmental monitoring and regulation, the Obama administration is requesting $10 billion overall, which accordingto the White House is, "a substantially higher annual amount than requested under any previous Administration."

Specific EPA spending as it relates to the clean energy sector includes:

  • $21 million – an increase of $4 million from 2010 – to implement the Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule and ensure the availability of high-quality emissions data.
  • $56 million– including $43 million in new funding – for the EPA and states to address climate change effectively through regulatory initiatives to control greenhouse gas emissions

Department of Transportation

The Department of Transportation's budget request for 2011 is $78.8 billion with $530 million earmarked for, "Sustainable Communities to help State and local governments invest in sustainable transportation infrastructure that integrates with housing development and other critical investments."