On Thursday, October 28, 2010 in Menlo Park at Orrick, SDForum presented as part of its Green and Clean Evening Series “A Report Card on the Stimulus Package.” Mitch Zuklie of Orrick moderated panelists Chris Dier of Solaria, Corwin Hardham of Makani Power, Mark Iwanowski of Trident Capital, Dr. John T. Kelly of Altex Technologies and Seth Miller of DBL Investors.
Federal stimulus in high technology goes back to the Cold War and has paid back its investment many times. The panel discussed the recent impact of the $787 billion stimulus bill on green and clean technology. It was a collection of tax benefits, entitlements, contract, grants and loans that is now bearing fruit. There are several quite visible in changes in Silicon Valley. Tesla Motors received a $465 million award from the US Department of Energy and they are now hiring at the old NUMMI plant in Fremont. Down the street is Solyndra who will be opening a solar panel plant with a $535 million award. Brightsource has another award of $1.4 billion. Last week in California, the government approved the construction of the largest solar panel facility on federal land in the Mojave Desert. Wind turbines are going up all over the country. Corwin Hardham of Makani Power demonstrated a new way to generate power using aircraft.
People need to remember that stimulus money is just that and not a subsidy like that given to older existing energy companies. It can take a long time for research and development money to result in new business and jobs. Only a consistent political commitment to new technology will result in consistent returns of investment to the public.
Copyright 2010 DJ Cline All rights reserved.