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Published: Friday, 7/15/2011

Solar research budget on track to get $10 million boost


WASHINGTON -- Another $10 million would go into the national program for research and development of solar power for 2012 under an amendment passed by the U.S. House of Representatives Friday.

That’s potential good news for the Toledo area, which is recognized as a growing center of solar manufacturing.

U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) authored the measure to raise spending on solar research from its current budget of $166.1 million. That’s still about $87 million less than the government spent in the 2011 fiscal year, and it’s less than half of what President Obama requested for the 2012 fiscal year.

The money isn’t new spending, but rather will be transferred out of an administrative budget of the U.S. Department of Energy.

The measure passed the House on Friday with 212-210 votes. U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green) voted yes.

Miss Kaptur said the solar energy industry creates jobs and reduces American dependence on imported petroleum. She said the U.S. economy is anticipated to increase jobs by just 2 percent in the next year, while solar-related jobs are expected to increase by 26 percent.

“It is precisely because of our investments in this fledgling, cutting-edge industry that is high tech that such successes are possible. Right now we are in competition to be the leader in this sector,” Miss Kaptur said.

Citing competition from China, Miss Kaptur said the United States “must redouble our efforts, continue our investment in research and bring this market to scale in America.”

It was not known how much of the solar research budget will flow to solar researchers and manufacturers in northwest Ohio.

The budget still needs to pass the Senate.

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