The proposed 2014 federal budget that President Obama submitted to Congress on April 10 includes increases for the Department of Energy in general and for DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D) in particular. It also shows a slight decrease in funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

In his introductory message to the budget submitted April 10, the president expresses commitment to both energy and R&D: “No area holds more promise than our investments in American energy. The Budget continues to advance my ‘all-of-the-above’ strategy on energy, investing in clean energy research and development; promoting energy efficiency in our cars, homes, and businesses; encouraging responsible domestic energy production; and launching new efforts to combat the threat of climate change.”

R&D funding is down 1% (to $560 million) for the EPA, and overall funding for the EPA, $8.2 billion, is down from $296 million, or 3.5%, below the 2012 enacted level. However, the budget calls for federal R&D spending of $12,739 million in 2014 by way of the DOE, up 18% over actual 2012 numbers. According to the Analytical Perspectives document prepared by the Office of Management and Budget, that number breaks out into:

  • Basic research—$4,129 million, up 6% over 2012
  • Applied research—$4,405 million, up 23% over 2012
  • Development—$3,338 million, up 36% over 2012
  • Facilities and Equipment—$867 million, no change over 2012

Cybersecurity R&D is up, for a total of $143 billion across all agencies. The president’s preamble highlighted the reason for increases in spending for cybersecurity: “The Budget supports the expansion of Government-wide efforts to counter the full scope of cyber threats, and strengthens our ability to collaborate with State and local governments, our partners overseas, and the private sector to improve our overall cybersecurity.”

Among the verbatim DOE funding highlights of interest to the power generation sector are these:

  • Provides $28.4 billion in discretionary funds for the Department of Energy, an eight percent increase above the 2012 enacted level. This increased funding will position the United States to compete as a world leader in clean energy and advanced manufacturing, enhance our energy security, respond to the threat of climate change, and modernize the nuclear weapons stockpile and infrastructure.
  • Builds on the Administration’s success in reducing our use of oil, promoting energy efficiency, and doubling U.S. renewable electricity generation by increasing funding for the Department’s clean energy technology activities by over 40 percent above the 2012 enacted level. Creates new Race to the Top for Energy Efficiency and Grid Modernization awards to support State governments that implement effective policies to increase energy productivity and modernize the grid, and to make progress toward the President’s goal of cutting in half the energy wasted by our homes and businesses over the next 20 years.
  • Provides $615 million to increase the use and decrease the costs of clean power from solar, wind, geothermal, and water energy.
  • Increases the affordability and convenience of advanced vehicles and domestic renewable fuels by investing $575 million in cutting-edge vehicle technologies, $282 million in the next generation of advanced biofuels, and $2 billion of proposed mandatory funding for an Energy Security Trust to transition our cars and trucks off of oil.
  • Invests $365 million in advanced manufacturing research and development to strengthen U.S. competitiveness and enable companies to improve product quality and manufacturing processes while cutting production costs by using less energy.
  • Achieves savings and efficiencies by eliminating $4 billion in annual unwarranted and unnecessary subsidies to the oil, gas, and coal industries, restructuring the plutonium disposition program, cutting low priority and low performing programs, and increasing utilization of existing facilities and infrastructure.
  • Helps consumers and businesses save money and improve their energy efficiency by investing in new technology development, implementing cost-effective appliance standards, and catalyzing private sector investment in more energy efficient buildings through the President’s Better Buildings Initiative.
  • Invests $16 million—an increase of $10 million—in enhanced energy infrastructure security and energy recovery capabilities.
  • Supports modernizing the electricity delivery grid through an investment of $153 million in research and development for smart grid investments, cybersecurity for energy control systems, and permitting, siting, and analysis activities within the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability. Advances the technologies and tools for improved clean energy integration onto the grid through an $80 million coordinated effort within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

This story was originally published Apr. 10.
Sources: POWERnews, U.S. Government Printing Office

Gail Reitenbach, PhD, Managing Editor (@POWERmagazine, @GailReit)