The Obama administration is handing out $2.3 billion in Recovery Act Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credits for clean energy projects to provide jobs across the U.S. after announcing a disappointing employment report for December.

The tax credits will be awarded to 183 projects in 43 states. The administration predicts they will produce tens of thousands of jobs in clean energy technologies, including solar, wind, efficiency and energy management. The announcement Friday came on the same day the Labor Department announced that nonfarm payroll employment declined by 85,000 jobs, with the unemployment rate remaining unchanged at 10.0 percent.

The tax credits were approved by Congress last February as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. They are focused on putting Americans back to work while building more domestic manufacturing capacity and creating more renewable energy projects using American-made parts and equipment. The credits are a step toward the President’s goal of doubling the amount of renewable energy the country uses in the next three years with wind turbines and solar panels built domestically.

“Building a robust clean energy sector is how we will create the jobs of the future,” said Obama in a statement. “The Recovery Act awards I am announcing today will help close the clean energy gap that has grown between America and other nations while creating good jobs, reducing our carbon emissions and increasing our energy security.”

The announcement includes tax credits for numerous clean energy technologies and companies, including Itron Inc.’s OpenWay Centron smart meter for the residential market, TPI Composites’ manufacturing facility in Nebraska that will produce next-generation wind turbine blades, and W.L. Gore & Associates’ membrane for high-efficiency fuel cells.

The projects selected for the tax credit generally must be placed in service by 2014. Approximately 30 percent of them are expected to be completed in 2010.

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