White House Proposes Steep Cuts to Energy Innovation Programs

White House Proposes Steep Cuts to Energy Innovation Programs
16 March 2018

Utah has become a hub for clean energy innovation, hosting a large and growing number of companies and workers in solar energy, energy efficiency, electric vehicles, and other new and emerging energy technologies. There are now over 6,000 solar jobs in the state and another 30,000 energy efficiency jobs. And we expect that to continue here in the Beehive state as private and public investment in clean energy grows.

However, a hidden part of Utah’s clean energy success story involves strategic investments in research, develop, and deployment of new energy technologies. And the major supporter of this type of investment has been the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Programs like the DOE’s SunShot initiative have substantially reduced costs for solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays, while the DOE’s Building Technologies program has helped to drastically reduce the costs of (LED) lighting technologies. Investments in demonstrating and deploying new technology allow private industrial and entrepreneurs to bring these new technologies to business and families across the nation and create new jobs and opportunities.

That’s why we are concerned that the Trump Administration is once again proposed drastic reductions in investments in important energy research and development programs at DOE in its FY2019 budget proposal. The administration has proposed cuts of $1.3 billion to its Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) programs next year, a cut of 65%. It has also proposed eliminating the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) that helps low-income families with energy efficiency improvements and the Advanced Research Project Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) that provides seed capital for early stage, breakthrough energy projects. This at a time when investments in energy innovation are already low according to most independent experts, like the centrist think tank Third Way.

A table lays out the proposal cuts to key energy innovation programs below:

Historical Budgets for Energy & Environmental Programs Eliminated by President’s FY 2019 Budget Proposal

Agency/Program

FY2018 CR

FY2019 Proposed

% Change FY18-FY19

Dept. of Energy EE/RE

$2.04 billion

$696 million

-65.8%

Vehicle Technologies Program

$304.87 million

$68.5 million

-77.7%

Solar Energy Technologies Program

$206.2 million

$67 million

-67.7%

Wind Energy Technologies Program

$89.34 million

$33 million

-63.3%

Building Technologies Program

$197.79 million

$57 million

-71.4%

Weatherization Assistance

$223.47 million

$0

-100%

State Energy Program

$50 million

$0

-100%

ARPA-E

$303.17 million

$0

-100%

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program

$3.3 billion

$0

-100%

 

When the Trump administration proposed similar reductions to DOE EERE programs last year, Congress took a different path, largely maintaining investments in these critical programs. We hope that Congress will do the same this year. Preserving federal investments in energy innovation programs at the Department of Energy will help sustain the awesome growth in the clean energy economy here in Utah and help us to unlock promising emerging technologies, like energy storage. Now is not the time to put the brakes on the progress we’ve made.