Applied Materials CEO Talks Cleantech With Obama

Jan 30 2009 | 1:48pm ET

Applied Materials CEO Mike Splinter used a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday to press the case for investment in clean tech, particularly solar energy, as a means of creating jobs.

Splinter was one of 13 CEOs of leading American tech companies – including IBM's Sam Palmisano, Google's Eric Schmidt, Motorola's Greg Brown and Micron's Steve Appleton – who met with the president at the White House to discuss his Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“Structured and implemented in the right way, the recovery package can be much more than just an interim financial rescue plan,” said Splinter in a statement. “Wise investment today can lead to a much brighter future for America by putting in place the foundation on which to build a stronger and more competitive economy.”

Splinter, whose company is a world leader in nanomanufacturing technology, including the production of solar photovoltaic cells, voiced his support for specific actions related to solar energy now under consideration as part of the stimulus package.

First, he supports short-term refundability of the federal solar investment tax credit combined with new tax incentives to locate solar manufacturing facilities in the United States and encourage the expansion of the country's renewable technology manufacturing base. He also supports a requirement that federal properties adopt renewable and solar energy sources. Splinter says this would reap almost immediate benefits, as the federal government spends almost $6 billion a year on electricity.

The Applied Materials CEO says Congress should make $10 billion available to the Federal Energy Management Program to invest in the construction and operation of solar installations. In addition, he'd like to see the Energy Department’s annual R&D budget for solar technology increased to $300 million.

The third possible action involves enhancing the innovative renewable technology loan guarantee program with the goal of creating a clean energy bank providing low- or no-cost financing for solar and other renewable projects and accelerating the commercial deployment of renewable energy projects.

“Along with bridges and roads, President Obama has made it clear that he believes strongly in the value of building a 21st century technological infrastructure that includes items like building out a new 'smart-grid' for transmitting electricity and broadband digital networks for high speed communications,” said Splinter.

Following the meeting, Obama said investments in alternative energy were part of the stimulus plan, the aim of which is not simply to put Americans back to work but to “lay the foundation for long-term growth and prosperity.”

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