Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of Local Tech Wire and business editor of

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARKS, N.C. – The Triangle J Council of Governments and the DeKalb County/Metro Atlanta Alternative Fuel and Advanced Technology Vehicle Project are two of the big winners in the $300 million U.S. Department of Energy’s awards.

So what are the tax payers going to get for their money? Don’t forget the caveat with the federal awards, either. The U.S. funds are to be matched almost $2 for $1, so triple the price tag of these programs.

Triangle J calls its program to replace gas and diesel vehicles “Carolina Blue Skies & Green Jobs Initiaitve.”

Here’s what DOE is funding:

Triangle J Council of Governments’ Carolinas Blue Skies & Green Jobs Initiative. The project will include vehicles and fueling infrastructure for electric, hybrid-electric, compressed natural gas, propane, E85 [ethanol], and biodiesel fuels and technologies to be deployed throughout North Carolina and South Carolina. The project includes 45 E85 and B20 [biodiesel] stations, eight propane stations, and 132 electric vehicle recharging sites. New vehicles to be deployed include 55 CNG vehicles, 363 propane vehicles, 89 hybrid electric vehicles, and 56 neighborhood electric vehicles. DOE estimates that the initiative will help displace 724,000 gallons of petroleum annually.

“Total DOE award: $12,975,388”

Local contribution, based on the DOE statement: Another $26 million or thereabouts.

(“And with the cost share contributions from the recipients, every federal dollar spent will be matched by nearly two dollars from the project partners,” is how the DOE describes the local match.)

In Atlanta and suburbs, the project is described as:

DeKalb County’s DeKalb County/Metropolitan Atlanta Alternative Fuel and Advanced Technology Vehicle Project. The project will convert local landfill gas (LFG), a renewable fuel source, to compressed natural gas and develop five CNG fueling stations throughout the metro-Atlanta area. The project also includes construction of a B20 station. Team partners will purchase a total of 191 commercially available light- to heavy-duty alternative-fuel and advanced-technology vehicles. DOE estimates that the project will help displace 490,000 gallons of petroleum annually.

“Total DOE award: $14,983,167”

True cost will be around $45 million.

Going green is wildly popular in certain circles these days, but who is counting the costs?

Look at how much money will be spent in these two projects alone to displace an estimated 1.2 million gallons of petroleum annually.

Duke Energy and Progress Energy, meanwhile, are signing up alternative fuels projects at a fast clip. But for each deal announced, a significant fact is always left out – the financials, as in how much each kilowatt of wind or solar power costs compared to the cost per kilowatt for nuclear, coal or other sources.

Green is great, and green is popular. But don’t forget the bills will come due – higher taxes and higher rates.