The jobs summit being held at the White House today just ended its breakout sessions, where representatives across industries and professions presented their recommendations for creating jobs in the short-term, but with a long term vision, i.e., a clean energy vision. Tom Friedman emphasized that certainty was key for anything to work in today's economy, and that this could be achieved only with definite carbon pricing, key efficiency pricing, setting cap limits and establishing consumer polls to ensure fixed long term price signals. In other words, if we don't get taxed on using gas, we won't be motivated to use electric/hybrid.
As CEOs of Home Depot, Silver Springs, Union Representatives and NGO Leaders discussed their personal experiences and stressful points, four main recommendations emerged, as summarized below:
1) Credit: Everyone emphasized and agreed that there was lack of credit in the market and therefore resisting projects and putting more people to work. This includes working capital for small businesses, for factories, for training in clean energy and ensuring income tax didn't stop fledgling companies from employing more people. As one participant cited, if payments don't arrive for six months, installers of energy efficiency windows and roofs cannot keep their pace of work, and therefore, companies are forced to scale back and in many instances, layoff staff.
2) Legislative Limits & Caps: It was agreed that legislative action is required in terms of carbon caps, emission levels and carbon pricing to boost the renewables industry, solar and wind energy and water power. Without limits, attendees emphasized, there would remain a glut of investment potential and a lack of interest among equity generators.
3) Project Financing: Representatives from the clean energy sector especially emphasized that a big problem for them in lifting projects and businesses off the ground was lack of promised project financing. Appetite for risk is low, they stressed and investment energy even lower. With lack of credit and promised low-interest investment, the sector feels stuck in a no-win situation.
4) Loan guarantees: Building on the above three points, the round table discussed the need for low-interest guarantors for renewable and biofuel energy projects. One participant mentioned few facilities out there who offered loans at low interest rates, and that financial models were not in place for a nascent industry like renewables. And because of the way the economy has been, banks and lenders have been slow in developing these models as they don't have incentive or legislative direction.
On to the closing session, where the President takes recommendations directly from the participants. Stay tuned!
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