Moniz testifies on DOE FY 2015 budget request

By Erin Voegele | April 15, 2014

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz recently addressed U.S. DOE’s fiscal year (FY) 2015 budget request at hearings held by the Senate Committee on Appropriations and the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

In his written testimony, Moniz noted that the U.S. has made remarkable progress in clean and renewable energy. He indicated that several changes are underway at DOE to better align the agency’s funding and organization with certain presidential priorities. While the department’s science and energy programs were previously managed and overseen by two under secretariats, Moniz said those roles have now merged into a single position. In his testimony, he also said that the DOE is reexamining and strengthening the way it works with its national laboratories to better carry out science and energy missions.

Overall, DOE’s FY budget request is $27.9 billion, up 2.4 percent from FY 2014. “The Department of Energy’s 2.6 percent increase recognizes our high-priority missions for clean energy and addressing climate change, nuclear security, and innovation,” Moniz said in his written testimony. Approximately $9.8 billion of that request would support energy, science and related programs.

The budget also includes a separate $56 billion Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative (OGSI), which Moniz said shows how additional discretionary investments in 2015 can spur economic progress, promote opportunity and strengthen national security.

In addition to the discretionary budget and OGSI, Moniz noted that the budget also proposes an Energy Security Trust. “This $2 billion investment over 10 years will support R&D into a range of cost-effective technologies—like advanced vehicles that run on electricity, homegrown biofuels, renewable hydrogen, and domestically produced natural gas – and will be drawn from existing royalty revenues generated from Federal oil and gas development,” he said in his written testimony.

The $9.8 billion request for science and energy programs includes $4.7 billion for a portfolio of energy activities consisting of the DOE’s applied energy programs, such as the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, loan programs, international affairs, the Energy Information Administration, and several other programs and administrations. An additional $5.1 billion is requested for the Office of Science.

The FY 2015 budget request for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is $2.3 billion, a 22 percent increase over FY 2014. Moniz said the funding would support investments in sustainable transportation, renewables, and efficiency and manufacturing. About $60 million, administered through authority provided by the Defense Production Act in collaboration with the USDA and U.S. Department of Defense, is required to continue to enable the objective of producing advanced biofuels that meet military specifications at a price competitive with petroleum. Detailed budget information released by the DOE in March notes that in FY 2013 EERE supported five high-tonnage feedstock logistics projects and funded an 8 MMgy cellulosic ethanol project. In FY 2015, the DOE budget requests calls for the investment of $253 million in bioenergy technologies, with an emphasis on innovative processes that take in cellulosic material and algae as feedstock.

Budget information published by the DOE also indicates a $10 million requires for biofuels compatibility to evaluate and enable use of advanced biofuels at higher volumes in light duty vehicles. This would include a subprogram to study and identify both optimization of renewable super premium (RSP) fuels of 20-40 percent ethanol and optimal drop-in fuels.

The budget request includes $325 million for ARPA-E, a 16 percent increase, which Moniz said would be split between an open solicitation to capture potentially transformational ideas not within the scope of existing programs and 4-5 new programs looking at critical energy challenges.

A full copy of Moniz's written testimony is available on the Senate Appropriations Committee website. Additional information on the DOE budget request, including information on energy efficiency and renewable energy, is available on the DOE website.