Letter opposes proposed cuts to DOE’s renewable energy programs

By Erin Voegele | April 25, 2019

The Biomass Power Association partnered with six renewable energy trade groups April 25 to send a letter to Congress urging consistent funding for energy innovation in the U.S. Department of Energy’s fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget. The letter opposes deep cuts to energy innovation proposed by the Trump Administration.

The letter, which was also signed by the American Council on Renewable Energy, the American Wind Energy Association the Energy Storage Association, the Geothermal Resources Council, the National Hydropower Association, and the Solar Energy Industries Association, expresses strong support for the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Advanced Research Programs Agency—Energy, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. In the letter, the seven trade groups ask congress to continue, at a minimum, current funding levels for EERE, ARPA-E and NREL in FY 2020.

“Their vital programs support and foster the global leadership of the United States in cutting-edge energy research, innovation and competitiveness, creating trillions of dollars in business opportunities for American industry,” the groups wrote. “We oppose the Administration’s proposed deep cuts in funding as outlined in its FY budget.”

Trump unveiled his FY 2020 budget request for the DOE on March 11, asking Congress to providing $31.7 billion in funding to the agency, a $1.1 billion increase from his FY 2019 request, but approximately $3.83 billion—or 10.8 percent—less than the $35.53 billion actually appropriated by congress for FY 2019.

According to documents published by the DOE, Trump has asked Congress to appropriate $343 million in FY funding for the EERE, plus a proposal to use $353 million in prior year balances for a total of $696 million. For FY 2019, Congress appropriated $2.38 billion in funding to EERE. Trumps proposed $343 million in FY 2020 funding represents an 85.6 percent decrease when compared to the actual FY 2019 funding level for EERE.

For ARPA-E, Trump has proposed a FY 2020 budget of negative $287 million, a 178.4 percent reduction when compared to the $366 million in FY 2019 funding that Congress appropriated to the program.

For NREL, Trump has proposed $205.74 million in FY 2020 funding, down from the $332.1 million that Congress appropriated for 2019 and the $383.79 million NREL received in FY 2018.

“At a time when global competitors are dramatically increasing research and development for renewable energy technologies, the Administration has proposed cutting more than $2.4 billion from programs supporting energy innovation and deployment, an 88 percent decrease from current funding levels,” the groups wrote. “The proposed budget includes a $2.04 billion (86 percent) cut to EERE and the elimination of ARPA-E. We believe that these cuts would jeopardize America’s leadership in cutting-edge research on clean energy technologies and harm our country’s overall competitiveness in a rapidly growing global industry that presents a multi-trillion-dollar business opportunity.”

Within the letter, the trade groups stress that through EERE, APRA-E, NREL and other national labs, the DOE has been instrumental in the research, development and deployment of many important electric power innovations.

“The work done by EERE, ARPA-E and NREL fills a critical gap in research and development at a time when the United States is desperately in need of grid modernization, and at risk of falling behind other countries, like China, that are racing to develop the next generation of energy technologies,” the groups wrote. “We respectfully urge you to continue, at a minimum, current funding levels for these important clean energy innovation programs, and to oppose the Administration’s proposed cuts to the Department of Energy’s FY 2020 Budget.”

A full copy of the letter can be downloaded from the ACORE website