For the Republican side of the aisle and a good portion of the US public, the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of...

For the Republican side of the aisle and a good portion of the US public, the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 has always been a tough sell.

Part of the challenge, after all, is the impossibility of proving how much worse things might have been if not for the massive stimulus plan. It’s like proving a negative: it can’t be done unless you can conjure up a Clarence-like angel to take Minority Leader John Boehner on a mystical tour of the US as it would have looked without the emergency cash injection.

Lacking such an heavenly Mr. Odbody, the Obama administration has to rely on the next best thing available in the real world: a report detailing what activity has been generated by the Recovery Act’s $100 billion in innovating funding. Among the wheels the report –” The Recovery Act: Transforming the American Economy through Innovation” — says the stimulus has set in motion:

  • Accelerated development in the electric car battery industry. Last year, states the report, the US had just two factories that produced advanced batteries for plug-in vehicles … enough to produce only 2 per cent of the world’s supply. In two years’ time, however, the country will be home to some 30 such manufacturing facilities with a capacity to put out 20 per cent of the world’s advanced vehicle batteries.
  • Lower cost batteries for electric cars. Thanks to such industry expansion, the cost for advanced vehicle batteries is expected to be cut in half by 2013, the report projects.
  • Accelerated development of solar and wind energy. Stimulus funds have helped make possible a Florida-based 25-megawatt solar power plant — the largest in North America — as well as paved the way for a 400-megawatt solar thermal project that would be the world’s largest to date, the report states. By 2015, the report predicts, the cost of solar energy will be halved.
  • Expanding access to broadband internet across the rural US. Nearly $7 billion in funding have passed through the Department of Commerce and the Department of Agriculture to improve broadband communications in under-served parts of the country.
  • A smarter energy grid. Combined with private investments, stimulus funds are supporting the rollout of 18 million new smart electricity meters across the nation, the report states. Recovery dollars are also paying for hundreds of new substations and sensors aimed at better managing the energy grid and preventing power outages.

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