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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