Applied Materials CEO Mike Splinter advocated for a mix of direct investments and tax incentives when he met with President Obama today.
Splinter was part of a group of CEOs from large companies, including Google, IBM, Jet Blue Airways and Micron Technology, who spoke with Obama. The president, in turn, used the opportunity to lobby for the business community’s support of his proposed $816 billion stimulus package.
While the president chatted with the business execs, the House of Representatives was set to vote on the stimulus package today.
Splinter spoke about the importance of investing in solar and championed ideas that also had been presented by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). The SEIA’s call for converting an investment tax credit into a direct payment to solar power project developers is now part of the stimulus package.
The tax credit, extended by Congress last October, can offset 30 percent of the cost of building a solar power plant. The tax credit has lost some of its allure because of the credit crunch. Solar project developers in the past used the tax credit to obtain loans from banks, which were then entitled to benefit from the tax credit. But the banks, as you know, aren't so willing to loan money these days.
Splinter pushed for using solar energy to power federal buildings. He said Congress should set aside $10 billion for installing and operating solar energy systems on federal buildings. He also recommended an increase to loan guarantees and research funds to promote renewable energy developments and commercialization.
Obama has said previously that he wants to double the country’s renewable energy production in three years, though exactly how the government could accomplish that remains a big question.