Cash for Caulkers

Obama floats weatherization program to boost jobs and perhaps strengthen Copenhagen hand

1 min read

Inexplicably, President Obama prefers venture capitalist John Doerr's "cash for caulkers" to Bill Sweet's cash for (coal) clunkers, at least so far. In  a jobs speech delivered yesterday at the Brookings Institution in Washington, Obama said he might introduce a special home retrofit program, to supplement subsidies in the stimulus bill and make it still easier and cheaper for homeowners to make dwellings more energy-efficient and conserving. The Daily Show's John Stewart poked fun at him Monday night for saying he didn't want to "tip his hand," as if he were giving away a secret. Obama has mentioned the idea repeatedly all year, as Stewart observed, and the concept has got analytic attention in the press and on the air.

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This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

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