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Don't listen to the Chicken Littles: Obama made smart investments in green tech

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The federal government’s track record on supporting clean tech is an enviable one, with far more winners than losers. Of the 30 battery and electric-drive firms that received stimulus funding, 28 continue to deliver. And in the case of A123 and EnerDel, the other such company that went into bankruptcy, work will continue at these US facilities. Further, A123 and EnerDel represent just 18 percent of the vehicle battery grants, meaning 82 percent of that portfolio is still performing.

The large number of renewable energy companies that received taxpayer backing are doing well, too. In fact, of the 26 that received federal loans, 23 are still on track. One other, Beacon Power, is going through bankruptcy, but it is still operating, and has nearly paid back its entire federally backed loan. The other two were Abound and Solyndra, the latter of which became the first failed company the Chicken Littles thoroughly politicized. But the collective risk from those three companies totals just 6 percent of the portfolio. In other words, 94 percent of the investments are still performing.

The truth is that any emerging technology has its starts and stops. Despite the critics’ naysaying prophecies, clean tech is on the rise nationwide in large part due to federal investment. A123 was manufacturing batteries for plug-in vehicles – the sales of which tripled over model year 2012 to more than 37,000 vehicles. The strength of the early electric vehicle market is impressive, especially considering it faces larger barriers than hybrids did 10 years ago. Nevertheless, electric vehicle sales are double those of hybrids back then. On top of that, an electric vehicle, the Model S from Tesla, another company that received federal help, received Motor Trend’s coveted Car of the Year award for 2013.

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