Brewing company wants fed stimulus funds

June 3, 2009 12:40:08 PM PDT
The Bay Area is getting a cut of the federal government's $787 billion stimulus package. Local cities, counties and businesses are all vying for the cash. And there are already big plans in the works for the funding.

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For nearly nine years, the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company has not only crafted its own beers and run a restaurant, it's also been focusing on the environment.

"We recycle cardboard, we recycle the glass, plastic, paper," said Mike Laffen, a co-owner of the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company.

Laffen says the business even goes so far as to recycle some food.

"We recycle all the spent grain from the beer with a local pig farmer. We give him our day-old bread," said Laffen.

Plus, there are water-saving devices on faucets and energy-efficient light bulbs -- all this helped gain the honor of "Bay Area Green Business." Now it has discovered a way to go a step further. The Half Moon Bay brewery has brewed up a plan to go even greener. It has submitted a proposal asking for $1.5 million of federal stimulus money to make its operations more energy-efficient.

"We want to install solar panels. We would like to look into biodiesel generators," said Laffen.

The brewing company is one of 450 Bay Area bids for economic stimulus funds, from the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The ideas have to fall into at least one of seven categories: energy or climate, water, housing, transportation, workforce training and education, science and innovation, or business development.

The Bay Area Economic Institute is selecting and submitting the best ideas this month as part of a regional plan to the state, outlining how the Bay Area wants to spend the stimulus cash it gets. The proposals are judged on how well they would boost job growth and generate long-term return on investment for the region.

"The payback on just installing solar would probably be about 14 years," said Laffen.

Most bids come from cities, counties and public agencies hoping for federal money to do infrastructure projects -- like a new Transbay Transit Center in San Francisco, to a median built along a dangerous stretch of Vasco Road in Contra Costa County. Private companies are vying for stimulus too. Perhaps none though are so literally tapped into Obama -- even bottling the promise for change, in this instance, through solar or biodiesel-powered beer.

"The partners were actually kind of almost laughing because they didn't anticipate this could even be possible, and then when I read through the information and explained to them, they were like, 'go for it --you know, you got nothing to lose,'" said Laffen.

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