Is alternative energy sustainable in Indiana?

July 7, 2010
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Name a big economic development project in Indiana with an alternative energy thrust, and it probably relies heavily on a federal grant or loan.

Abound Solar, the Colorado firm that plans to build solar panels at the former Getrag plant near Tipton, is getting a $400 million federal loan. EnerDel is building a plant in Hancock County to make lithium-ion batteries for hybrid cars. The U.S. Postal Service gave a contract to Bright Automotive in Anderson to develop delivery vehicles that run on electricity.

Carbon Motors won’t build high-tech police cars in Connersville without a federal loan it hopes to land soon. The car’s diesel engine isn’t exotic, but the car’s composite materials put it on the edge of alternative transportation.

The flood of federal incentives is great, says Greg Wathen, president of the Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana. But it’s just a start.

“There’s just no way the feds can sustain this over time. And then what happens?” Wathen says. “You have to ask, how sustainable is that?”

Indiana should do more to focus on battery technology, if that’s the niche the state sees itself developing, Wathen says. South Carolina, for example, has built infrastructure around fuel cells, the technology it feels offers the best shot at the future.

What are your thoughts about the wind, solar and battery businesses moving into the state? Can they hang on without federal support? And what are your broader thoughts about government incentives for alternative energy? What do you see as the pros and cons of the government picking winners?

 

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  • Startup Incentives
    Many of these incentives are being provided to get an infrastructure in place. Solar panels are cost prohibitive right now because there isn't enough demand to bring the prices down to a "consumer" rate. Incentives will get the ball rolling and when the supply increases and keeps the costs lower (as traditional energy prices increase), the incentives will no longer be needed. Its the same for battery and wind power as well.
  • Must get started somewhere
    I agree with Brandon. It is all a start, but we must also have refueling places on every corner as we did with gas stations in the 1950s. If you can't recharge a battery, pull up to an ethanal pump, or plug into (nuclear) electric or natural gas, none of it will work leaving us destine to keep sending our money to the Middle East. I've wanted alternative energy for years in home & vehicle, but it has been too costly. The auto industry will eventually focus on 1 power source per region and then we might see lower cost vehicles and energy sources. Then the tourism industry will have to find a way to provide the energy region to region.
  • i disagree
    so what infrastructure is my tax dollars going for here? diesel engines? Dont existing OEMs already have the infrastructure inn place?

    How much of my tax dollars will go as salary for Mr. Santana?

    Will anyone sign personally for this loan? Or is it a giveaway of my tax dollars?

    Stop the wasteful spending
  • all late
    The problem here is that other states have, along with state run programs, have gotten a big jump on their piece of the federal pie. It's not too late but it is time to jump up to the task and take advantage of what funds are offered while they are still offering. Maybe, by the time these funds run out, we can be making all this stuff locally for a cheeper price overall.

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  1. With Pence running the ship good luck with a new government building on the site. He does everything on the cheap except unnecessary roads line a new beltway( like we need that). Things like state of the art office buildings and light rail will never be seen as an asset to these types. They don't get that these are the things that help a city prosper.

  2. Does the $100,000,000,000 include salaries for members of Congress?

  3. "But that doesn't change how the piece plays to most of the people who will see it." If it stands out so little during the day as you seem to suggest maybe most of the people who actually see it will be those present when it is dark enough to experience its full effects.

  4. That's the mentality of most retail marketers. In this case Leo was asked to build the brand. HHG then had a bad sales quarter and rather than stay the course, now want to go back to the schlock that Zimmerman provides (at a considerable cut in price.) And while HHG salesmen are, by far, the pushiest salesmen I have ever experienced, I believe they are NOT paid on commission. But that doesn't mean they aren't trained to be aggressive.

  5. The reason HHG's sales team hits you from the moment you walk through the door is the same reason car salesmen do the same thing: Commission. HHG's folks are paid by commission they and need to hit sales targets or get cut, while BB does not. The sales figures are aggressive, so turnover rate is high. Electronics are the largest commission earners along with non-needed warranties, service plans etc, known in the industry as 'cheese'. The wholesale base price is listed on the cryptic price tag in the string of numbers near the bar code. Know how to decipher it and you get things at cost, with little to no commission to the sales persons. Whether or not this is fair, is more of a moral question than a financial one.

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