Namaste Solar Electric snagged a starring role in the signing of the $787 billion economic stimulus package by President Obama on Tuesday.
The Boulder, Colo.-based solar service company was held up by Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter as an example of how the massive legislation, billed by Obama as the largest stimulus package in the U.S. history, would create green jobs and boost the country's production of clean energy. Namaste installed the solar panels on the Colorado governor's mansion, as well as the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, where the signing ceremony took place.
Blake Jones, CEO of Namaste Solar, gave Obama's introduction. Before the president signed the legislation, Jones told the story of his company, which installs solar energy systems, and said that it was on a hiring freeze and had to cut budgets in recent months. The company grew its staff from three to 60 in the last three years, but was considering laying off employees.
"This weekend I called the CEOs of other solar companies, and the overwhelming consensus was that this stimulus bill will immediately benefit companies like ours," Jones said. "Now we have plans to increase the workforce by 20 percent this year and 40 percent through 2010."
The testimony is an important message for Obama to send. Winning support for this stimulus package proved difficult, and Americans are pinning a lot of hopes on this mammoth spending and tax reduction plan. The Solar Energy Industries Association expects the legislation to create 60,000 new jobs in the solar industry this year, or 111,000 over the next two years.
The package includes tax credits, grants and loan guarantees for solar, wind, plug-in hybrid cars, advanced batteries and other renewable energy sectors (see Obama Signs Stimulus Package).
"I don't want to pretend that today marks the end of our economic problems," Obama said before signing the bill. "We are laying the groundwork for a green energy economy that can create countless green jobs. We will transform the way we use energy."
Obama and lawmakers hope the legislation will create or save 3.5 million jobs in the next two years and double the country's renewable energy generation in three years. The U.S. economy lost three million jobs last year alone, Biden said during the signing ceremony.
The president also highlighted the need to upgrade the country's electric transmission networks, creating what he called a "transmission superhighway" to ferry renewable power across regions. He also gave a shout out to Boulder as "the world's first smart grid city." Xcel Energy, the largest utility on Colorado, is carrying out a $100 million pilot project called SmartGridCity.
The White House has created a Website, www.recovery.gov, to show how money from the stimulus package will be spent and where new jobs will be created.
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