One industry poised to put that federal aid to work: renewable energy. From Wednesday's Marketplace:
SAM EATON: By injecting billions of dollars into renewable energy projects, the federal stimulus package aims to do one thing -- fill the financial void left in the wake of the banking crisis. New Energy Capital CEO Scott Brown says the number of big banks willing to finance wind and solar projects has dropped from nearly two dozen to a handful.
SCOTT BROWN: Lehman, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, Citigroup, Wachovia. All of those players essentially are now out of the market.
Taking with them the principle funding mechanism that made renewable energy the fastest growing source of power. Rhone Resch with the Solar Energy Industries Association says the federal stimulus package narrowly averts a catastrophe.
RHONE RESCH: We have literally hundreds of projects that are in the queue, we've got thousands of installers ready to go and warehouses filled with equipment. What we were lacking was the financing to get these projects off the shelf and moving forward. We now have that through the stimulus bill. [Sam Eaton, "Stimulus Enables Green to Grow," Marketplace, 2009.02.25]
There are no guarantees of success, but this lifeline to the renerable energy industry is a good example of how government action in a time of crisis can create jobs and economic activity, not to mention pleasant side effects like environmental gains and energy security.