WASHINGTON -- National investment in solar research and development would gain $10 million under an amendment to the proposed 2012 federal budget narrowly approved Friday by the U.S. House of Representatives.
U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) authored the measure to add $10 million to the House Appropriations Committee's budget of $166.1 million for solar research.
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, her staff said.
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 on a 212-210 vote and heads to the Senate. U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green) voted yes.
Some of that money will likely be sought for solar work in the greater Toledo area, said Frank Calzonetti, vice president for government relations at the University of Toledo.
He said Toledo has many researchers and manufacturers active in the solar field.
"I would feel confident that some of it will come back to northwest Ohio. We still have to see how it will be programmed out. Certainly we have the entire value chain -- large companies, small companies, university research, basic research, applied research. However it takes shape I'm sure we will have proposals for the funds," Mr. Calzonetti said.
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."