Rocky Mountain News:
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden plans to lay off as many as 100 scientists and researchers, or 11 percent of its total staff, beginning early next month as it faces drastic cuts in its budget.

The fiscal 2006 cuts, estimated at more than $20 million, or 10 percent of its $200 million budget in fiscal 2005, are the result of Congress earmarking or diverting a big chunk of federal funds toward other projects.

In fiscal 2006, Congress cut the Department of Energy's budget for all renewable energy programs by more than 35 percent. As a result, DOE, which funds NREL as well as other national labs, has cut the total amount it will give the lab in Golden. NREL does research in wind, biomass, solar and hydrogen technologies.

(emphasis mine)

More from AP/TheDenverChannel:
"U.S. Rep. Beauprez is very concerned about the potential impact on NREL and has contacted officials at the Department of Energy to remind them of the importance of NREL not only to the local economy but also to our country's energy needs, especially at a time when we need to do everything we can to help develop alternative sources of energy," Stoick said.
I have to admit, I hadn't heard much about the NREL prior to this article, but after perusing their website I am convinced that this laboratory does vital work to research and promote alternative energy sources. $20 million dollars is now a drop in the bucket when looking at the "billions" that gets thrown around all the time in budget discussions. ($20 million is 2% of $1 billion). With the era of cheap abundant oil passing us rapidly by, I feel that no expense should be spared when attempting to find alternative and sustainable sources of energy. It is inconceivable to me that the budget for R&D of these forms of technology would be cut 1/3 for fiscal '06.

An aside (and another positive in my eyes) is this link on the NREL site:
This site is Powered by Renewable Energy
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On 7:49 PM , Roger, Gone Green said...


(banging head on table)

Oh, wait, here's a good idea! Let's spend TRILLIONS on a war to temporarily stabilize a non-renewable resource we can never completely control! What a great idea!


On 8:04 AM , lauren said...

Grrrr! Roger said it well!

On 10:49 AM , odograph said...

Well on the good side, private alternate energy companies are booming, and here are 100 scientists to work for them.

We might see a burst of creativity as they leave the confines of a "big lab."

On 2:16 AM , Pragmatist In CO said...

I worked at NREL for over five years and, for the most part, it's a waste of Government money. Consider that after more than 25 years, NREL's predominate heating source for their buildings is natural gas. After 25 years you'd think that they would have converted their buildings to a renewable heating source; something that could be applied to buildings throughout the country. Instead they work on 100's of research projects with little practical value. NREL talks big, makes great color photographs, and constantly issues press releases telling how great they are but, in the end, does little of practical value. NREL is a high overhead, wasteful organization and can easily be trimmed more than 11%. NREL needs to demonstrate that it can operate using renewable energy resources for the majority of it's energy consumption and, if it can't, then needs to be shut down.

On 3:44 PM , ausamaddog said...

Oh no! Another ride on this merry-go-round ... another headache! What good are effective sources of renewal energy to anyone if the patents are purchased (by guess who?) only to sit on shelves in locked vaults never to be put to use?