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Yesterday the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy & Water approved a fiscal 2012 spending bill that would provide the Department of Energy (DOE) with $24.7B, $5B less than the Obama administration is seeking $900M below current spending. The measure passed in a voice vote with no objections and no amendments. The bill now goes to the full Appropriations Committee and the House, and eventually faces reconciliation with a still undrafted version in the Senate. The bill focuses on sharply cutting energy-efficiency and research spending that is an administration priority. The proposal would cut $1.9B from DOE's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office, a 60% reduction from the $3.2B requested.
The reductions target a wide range of initiatives that have been a priority for the White House, including cuts of $290M cut to solar power, $321M to building energy efficiency funding and $287M to the Weatherization Assistance Program, which funds energy-efficiency improvements to the homes of low-income families. The Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability program also saw a big cut, and to no one's surprise, Fossil Energy R&D saw a significant cut of nearly 20% from last year's level. The subcommittee provided only $160M of the $1.06B sought for DOE’s loan guarantee program, in addition to providing for no new loan-guarantee authority in any technology area. The $160M would cover the credit subsidy cost for renewable energy projects that have already applied for a DOE loan guarantee. Only $100M was provided for the agency's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy program, which is $450M below the requested level. In the Vehicle Technologies Program, funding is $254M; $46M below FY11 levels, and the subcommittee declined to fund the President’s request of $200M for a new plug-in vehicle deployment program. These cuts to DOE’s budget crystallize the on-going debate in Congress between Republican priorities (deficit reduction) and Democratic priorities.