April 19, 2013——The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) – in partnership with the House Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus – held a briefing on the energy efficiency and renewable energy implications of the fiscal year (FY) 2014 budget proposal released by President Obama on April 10. The budget proposal reflects the Administration's commitment to investments in clean energy and energy efficiency. In particular, the budget sets the foundations for achieving President Obama's new goal of doubling energy productivity by 2030 from 2010 levels.

Speakers from the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Congressional Research Service (CRS) gave an overview of the budget requests for various clean energy programs, explained budget priorities, and provided context on how these priorities and trends compare to prior years.

  • The FY2014 total budget request for the U.S. Department of Energy is $28.4 billion, an increase of 8 percent from FY2012 levels.
  • The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) budget request for FY2014 is $2.78 billion, which received half of the total increase in DOE’s overall budget. Within the EERE budget, manufacturing and weatherization programs saw the largest increases, while water power and hydrogen fuel cells saw small program decreases from FY2012.
  • Appropriations within the EERE office are grouped into four major themes: 1) Sustainable transportation, which provides $957 million (a 55 percent increase from FY2012) for Vehicles, Bioenergy, and Fuel Cells. 2) Energy savings, with $949 million (a 96 percent increase from FY2012) proposed for advanced manufacturing, buildings, weatherization and intergovernmental activities, and the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP). 3) Renewable electricity generation, with $615.5 million (a 31 percent increase from FY2012) proposed for solar, wind, water, and geothermal. 4) Corporate, with $273 million (a 23 percent increase from FY2012) requested for facilities, program direction, and strategic programs.
  • Jason Walsh, Senior Advisor at the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), noted that the United States is in a unique time and place for a transition to a clean energy economy. In order to make that transition, we need high-impact research, development and demonstration to make clean energy as affordable and convenient as traditional forms of energy. We not only need to cut costs, but also to break down barriers to market entry.
  • The EERE FY2014 budget focuses on the American transformation to a clean energy economy, by increasing international competitiveness through manufacturing and jobs, tackling climate change and reducing carbon emissions, and reducing oil imports through further development of Electric Vehicles (EV) and biofuels.
  • The DOE’s Vehicles Technologies program has increased its focus on batteries and electric drives as well as on outreach and deployment, placing a special emphasis on the EV Everywhere Grand Challenge (see below).
  • The DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing program began its new Clean Energy manufacturing Initiative in March 2013. This will improve competitiveness in the global marketplace by achieving 50 percent energy savings through advanced materials and processes, and by raising industrial energy productivity through programs such as Race to the Top, a competitive grant program that challenges states to cut energy waste.
  • The DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies program is placing a greater emphasis on Concentrated Solar Power (CSP), also known as solar thermal.
  • The DOE’s Wind Power Technologies program aims to promote offshore wind, with a longer-term goal of cutting offshore costs from 21 cents per kWh in 2010 to 17 cents per kWh by 2020.
  • The DOE’s Weatherization and Intergovernmental Activities program continues to advance its weatherization assistance program to achieve large cost savings for more low-income households, while developing new approaches for financing multi-family housing retrofits.
  • Cross-cutting EERE initiatives include: 1) The SunShot Initiative, which aims to cut the cost of solar power down to $1 per watt. This initiative has helped to double solar installations since 2009, with costs cut in half. 2) The EV Everywhere Grand Challenge seeks to make EVs as affordable and convenient as gas-powered vehicles by 2022, allowing fuel costs to be cut to the equivalent of $1 per gallon. 3) The Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative has the goal of strengthening U.S. competitiveness in the production of clean energy products while increasing the energy productivity of American companies. 4) The EERE Grid Integration Initiative seeks to holistically integrate distributed variable resources, electric vehicles, and building energy technologies into the electricity grid at a scale that would allow them to be adopted by utilities and the marketplace.