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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Can Green Jobs put Arizona Residents Back in the Black?

President Obama announced Friday the awarding of $2.3 billion in tax credits to companies that manufacture green technologies, such as solar panels and wind turbines. The money for this tax credit is coming from the $787 billion already allocated for the economic stimulus program. He says the tax credit would create approximately 17,000 new jobs in the U.S. Obama then made a plea to congress to approve another $5 billion to create more "green jobs".

Obama's announcement comes at a critical time as pundits are already all a flutter with predictions about this year's midterm elections. Politicians spent the majority of this Presidents first year in office battling over health insurance reform and it's left little time available to focus on jobs or the economy. With the final outcome of the health insurance reform bill still up in the air small businesses seem reluctant to hire until they know what this bill will mean for them; effects of this are reflected in the latest jobs report showing a loss of 85,000 jobs in December. Creating an additional 17,000 jobs would not only be a boost to the U.S. economy, but could also boost support for Dems at the voting booth this coming November.

17,000 new jobs is great news for the country, but where will these jobs be? At the present time American owned green energy product manufacturers are few and far between in Arizona. Suntech Power, Chinas largest solar panel manufacturer, plans to open its first American plant near Phoenix later this year and will build panels from solar cells shipped from China. The Dry Lake Wind Project, Arizona's first wind farm, uses wind turbines manufactured by Suzlon Energy of India. President Obama's tax credit may encourage manufacturers to build new American owned plants in Arizona, and there may also be a "trickle down" effect spurring hiring increases with retailers and installers. With 273 days of sunshine a year Arizona is surely an ideal place to put solar energy to good use.

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