Obama to Announce $2.4 billion for Batteries and Electric Vehicles

By Caitlin Taylor

Aug 5, 2009 7:48am

ABC News’ Sarah Tobianski reports:

Ahead of President Obama’s visit to Indianan RV plant today, administration officials provided a peek into $2.4 billion in recovery act grants for advanced battery and electric vehicles manufacturing, designed to invest in domestic technology for the future and spur job growth.

“It’s about recapturing the spirit of innovation that has always moved America forward,” said Diana Farrell, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council.  “We all know the initial objective of the recovery act was to provide immediate relief to rescue the economy and the financial system but it always intended to make critical investments that would spur innovation and bring us back to what makes America strong and to rebuild the foundation for lasting prosperity.”

According to officials, President Obama will announce 48 grant recipients and the amount of each award Wednesday morning in one of the states receiving the most grants – Indiana – followed by Michigan with seven and 11 winners, respectively.  Indiana also had a set of teams that bid for different award pieces – some of those ended up being from multiple locations throughout the state.

The grants will support three main areas: producing and recycling of batteries and their components, producing electric components for vehicles, and purchasing thousands of hybrids and electric vehicles for testing and training to support the transition to better fuel efficiency and advancement.

“If you look at the recipient groups, these range from [original equipment manufacturers] down to the small companies,” said Matt Rogers, Senior Advisor for the Department of Energy.  “They include universities and community colleges.  You know, we are working all the way across the value chain from folks who produce vehicle to folks who produce components for batteries.”

The $2.4 billion will be coupled with another $2.4 billion in cost share from the recipients, though officials say the average is slightly more than a 50 percent cost share from recipient.  By and large, 70 percent of the funding must be spent by Sept. 30 next year and 100 percent by September 2001.

These grants are separate from the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Loan Program, which was created by Congress in 2007 and reauthorized last fall and most recently doled out a round of funds this June.

“These are complementary applications in the sense that if an award recipient is building one factory with the proceeds from this grant, they may build another factory with proceeds with a loan program,” Rogers said. “But the same company may show up in both lists from time to time.”

Officials said the selection process was rigorous and started the day after the recovery act was passed. Each application was reviewed by three to five experts – including university professors and professional society members – followed by a panel that selected the top 20 percent of applicants.

–Sarah Tobianski

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