Thursday, March 09, 2006

Mixed Signals & Federal Funding for Alternative Energy Research

There have definitely been some mixed signals on alternative energy research recently. At the same time President Bush's State of the Union address called for a 22 percent increase in federal spending to develop alternative energies, dozens of staffers and contractors for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, were being laid off.

The disconnect was a political embarrassment for the president, so federal officials restored the laboratory's funding, rehiring the workers who had been laid off just in time for President Bush’s scheduled speech at the NREL.

In his speech the President acknowledged the confusion, “I recognize that there has been some interesting mixed signals when it comes to funding," President Bush said.

This comes at a time when a new national public opinion survey demonstrates overwhelming public support in the United States for government policies and investments that will support development of alternative energy sources. The survey of 1,000 registered voters was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies of Alexandria, VA, for the Energy Future Coalition. The survey’s findings included:

According to the survery there is nearly unanimous support for a national goal of having 25% of the United States domestic energy needs met by alternative energy by the year 2025. Ninety-eight percent of voters see this goal as important for the country, and three out of four (74%) feel that it is "very important." Ninety percent of voters believe this goal is achievable.

Similar majorities support government action to encourage greater use of renewable energy. Eighty-eight percent of voters favor financial incentives, and 92% support minimum government standards for the use of renewable energy by the private sector.

Nearly all voters (98%) say the costs, such as the cost of research and development and the cost of building new renewable energy production facilities, would be worth it to get the United States to the 25% by 2025 goal.

Voters consider energy to be an important issue facing the country, rating it similarly with health care, terrorism and national security, and education, and ahead of taxes and the war in Iraq. Half (50%) of voters believe America is headed for an energy crisis in the future, and 35% believe the country already is facing a crisis.

So just how much is the United States government spending on alternative energy research? After the 22% increase the budget will stand at $771 million. This amounts to less than one percent of the $55,000 million the federal government spends annually on research, nearly half of which is devoted to healthcare.

It’s time for action.

Source for figures on federal funding for alternative energy research

President Bush's speech at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory

America's Energy Future

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congress can do much to help renewable energy in this country by rejecting Rep. Don Young's attempts to kill Cape Wind, which would be the first offshore windfarm in the country.

9:09 am, March 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Besides Energy this another project worth supporting

1:59 pm, March 16, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is very clear to me there is little interest in developing new alternative energy sources.
I have one such design and am having very much a difficult time getting interest from those that supposedly matter.
If anyone cares to see a true alternative energy product, contact me at 920-707-3028, or
I am looking for a partner to develope, and destribute the licensing rights to this new inovation. J Paul Malczewski

5:19 pm, March 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why does the government need to research alternatives? We already have the technology to make it happen, and far sooner than 2025. Why not before 2008. Use what you have until you figure out a better way to do it. Right?

7:42 am, March 28, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just read an article about geothermal electricity. WOW! now there's an idea! Spend a few billion on building some of those, and we wouldn't need to burn anything! combine the with other natural resource like wind sun and water, there ya go. Economic devlopement? We should be beyond all that, with the results of our greed starring us in the face! Right?

8:57 am, March 28, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One aspect that I worry about is that we are not investing in Marketing. One of the reasons why the renewable and alternative energy markets are not growing as fast as they could is because citizens still do not hear the message of savings and inter-independence. They are certainly not hearing it from Congress. John Kerry is still the only politician that I know who sits on every committee hearing regarding Renewable Energies and Climate Change. The two forces that are helping sell the products we all want to have in the marketplace. What we needs is to generate a report to show how much the renewable and alternative energy sector spend on Marketing alone. The Marketing message needs to be well organized if we want to take on big oil, coal and nuclear. Educating and selling the message that our solutions won't economically harm you when you choose to make the transition to the next industrial revolution is virtually silient. The message that, it is a viable solution for you and future generations who will have the option of financing a cleaner and clearer future is virtually silent. Marketing, Marketing, and more Marketing; it seems that is only a mere fraction of the overall budget in federal and private dollars.

7:28 pm, April 06, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Sorry what I am about to say is not exactly relevant to the post here.
However I am extremely interested in brining and spreading the use of Solar Energy in India and other parts of the developing world. I feel that as India grows it starts using more and more energy. This is very bad for everybody on Earth. The only solution to this problem is the use of something like solar energy. I however needed some help pertaining to it.
If anybody is interested in helping me out in any way, volunteer work, advice, technical know- how or any other information which you think would help me out.
Please let me know at

Thank You and sorry once again for being intrusive.

Y. Chabria

1:28 pm, April 13, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see the government finally doing this. GM has created the hydrogen fuel cell chassis, but has basically shelved the entire project.

What we need is billionaire Bill Gates to develop a car that does not run on a petroleum based fuel, and have it ready in 5 years.

That way, we could care less what the Middle East does. Think what would happen to the price of oil the day that Bill Gates announced that he was creating this car. Oil would drop to 50 year lows.

Bill Gates! Where are you?? Use all that money to better the entire world. You already have the President of China meeting with you first, BEFORE meeting with the President of the U.S. You have access to all the right people to make this happen.

2:41 pm, April 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The biggest hurdles today for wind power are coming from the ultra environmentalists. Teddy Kennedy and a few other Cape Cod landowner Senators have put a stipulation into the Coast Guard appropriation's bill that allows the gov of a state adjacent to Federal
coastal and offshore aras, the right to veto wind farms. Fortunately Bush is aware of this fact and is opposing such parochial obstructionism. The Audubon Society has already studies potential impact
on bird populations and has, as always, found the danger to be not significant.

9:14 am, May 06, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are we all asleep here, lets face a few cold hard facts. The US government and those individuals who head it and all of its departments are not going to do anything other than pay lip service to alternative energy until every last drop of crude oil has been extracted from the plant, and processed into something salable so that they can line their pockets.

They don’t care that gas is $3.00 a gallon or $500.00 a gallon because they don’t pay for it, the taxpayers do, and they drive around and fly around the nation as if fuel was free, because to them it is free. They don’t give a damn that $5.15 is not even a poverty level wage, because they make huge salaries and have unlimited expense accounts, which go on until they die, long after their term in office is over, why do you think the president spends 35 million dollars to get elected to a job that pays $250,000.00 a year for 4 years.

Wake up, we are on our own, and if we would all get together and combine the moneys we are spending trying to make the government do something about alternative energy, we could fund the entire program our selves, and skip big brother entirely and finally cut the politicians out of the gold mine they live in.

12:39 pm, May 13, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I posted a comment earlier, and would love if you could visit my blog (which has a new address):


5:02 am, May 16, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Economics drive everything. Including those in Congress whose pockets are being lined... The fact is that we need EVERYONE to push for FAIR net metering in this country, and allow people to sell their "clean" energy onto the GRID at a fair price. The way it stands, the power companies have strangleholded the legislation in those states with net metering to limit the price paid to "avoided cost" which is presumably fuel costs... perhaps those of us who desire to sell non-trivial amounts of power (think 10's of thousands of people in each state - 30kw/hrs per household) can "sell" clean power credits back to the most aggregious polluting power plants.

The "GRID" is a public utility, and the government should allow this to happen in very broad terms.

The NY state legislation only allows net metering to a limit of 30kw for anyone connected to net metering - no kidding - their lunch will get eaten - fat dumb and happy - "The American Way"...

Look up net metering in your state and push your state government to CHANGE net metering to the betterment of it's environment, release from Global oil politics, and threat from culture clash and globalization...

One other thing, when are we going to "outsource" the govenment in this country ... as if that already hasn't happened...

3:28 pm, May 19, 2006  
Blogger chaindropz said...

I think ultracapacitors will play a big roll in alternative energy. They are used in wind mills,some solar and many more uses.

9:02 pm, May 29, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i must agree with anonymous, he speaks of the idea of producing your own power with windmills and solar panels etc. and selling the surplus to the electric company. depending on how much they will pay you for your energy, this idea may or may not be worth the initial investment.
in some places the elecric company will pay the same rate they charge you. in this case, increasing electricity costs is good for individual energy producers. if a state decides to offer incentives beyond this then it becomes a profitable business to have your own large wind turbine or solar array.
im on the verge of investing in my own energy farm but we need further incentives before it becomes commercially viable and actually desirable. we cant expect everyone to care about the environment, but we can expect them to care about money.
one other point to bring up is that its too bad we americans have to bear the cost of this problem because of our conscience, while the government does almost nothing. what a 22% increase in the green energy budget? 22% of nothing is nothing. also, why should everyone install their own wind turbine when a single large scale wind turbine could power an entire town? im not saying dont do it, because we have no choice, but it would be more economic and environmentally friendly on a larger than individual scale.

1:14 pm, July 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

why does green energy cost extra when the electric company buys it so cheap from individual producers? they need not condition or manage the power in any way, this is all done by the producer. considering the crisis, this should not be allowed.

1:21 pm, July 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe in alternative energy, but wind power is going to destroy our ecosystem. Solar and water are the cleanest and less intrusive way to seek green energy. Unless you live less than 350 yards away from these things, then you won't know how sad and worried we home owners are that haven't profited from these things and feel they have destroyed all that is scrared and beautiful here in Oregon. The animals,bats,plant life,and birds are endangered. They built these things near forested land and roads have riddled the hills leading to animal habitats. The red blinking lights will kill our night flying birds and bats. Our homes are worthless and our health endangered. We were not even given written notice of the approval or disaproval for this project. It is all about the money and not about our ecosystem and the beauty that was once Oregon. I am almost 60 and we will have to move and abandon our home. We will have no where to go and no way of being able to stop this big money making machine.

7:47 am, October 19, 2007  
Blogger James said...

To say wind power is going to destroy the ecosystem is a very strong and unsubstantiated comment. Obviously they should be appropriately sited, and I can't comment on your particular situation in Oregon.

Examples of bad siting (as opposed to people who are NIMBYs - Not In My Back Yard) do not mean wind power is wrong. Anymore than one car accident means that everyone should stop driving.

6:01 am, November 05, 2007  
Blogger YJay Draiman said...

Selling Renewable Energy (Solar Etc.) Without Incentives
In short, we need to market solar as an investment that will save money while you own it and return most or all of your investment when you sell the building it's sitting on.

Chances are, as natural gas and oil prices go up, there will be a corresponding jump in your monthly electricity bill. So, instead of promoting a solar power system based on today's savings in electricity, we need to have easily understandable projections on what the savings will be over the life of a system. These numbers need to reflect what's really happening to the cost of energy!
Here are some ideas I'd like to share. First, we need to find a way to make renewable energy economically competitive without the tax incentives. We do this by answering the question: "What is the opportunity cost of not using solar to decrease your energy bill?"

There's something interesting I've found. There's a direct correlation among electrical rates, the cost of air conditioning a building, the heat index and the amount of sunshine on any given day. In other words, on the hottest, sunniest days, we use more electricity that costs more per kilowatt. So, why do we continue to promote average hours of solar production, when in fact (at least down here in California), we produce far more solar power per day during the heat of the summer when energy costs are highest, than we do in our temperate winter months when energy costs are lowest. A sound marketing approach would be to evaluate solar energy in "dollars" of production per year instead of in kilowatts. I'm sure there are some smart people out there who can match kilowatts of solar production on any given day of the year to what the rates will be (based on the projected costs of electricity).
Secondly, we should stop trying to sell a solar package as a "cost." In real estate, there is a principle that says anything affixed to real estate becomes an integral part of the real estate. Once a solar package is installed, it immediately increases the value of a property. So how can you predict how much more a building will be worth in 5-10 years with a package as opposed to without one? In the real estate appraisal business, there are three approaches to appraising a property. The market approach (what are comparable properties selling for), the reproduction cost (the cost of creating an identical building at current construction and material prices) and the actual original cost adjusted for inflation. In all three methods, there's a strong case that a system installed today will make the building worth more today and in future years.
We need some realistic numbers to predict how much more a property will be worth in the years following installation. I believe that if you sell a building 5-10 years after installing solar, you should recoup all of your investment in the system plus an added bonus. If the rumors are true, a residential system (using the market approach) adds $20 of value to a home for every $1 it saves on the electric bill.
For commercial appraisals, you would divide the income (savings) by a cap rate (which was about 9% at last report). A system that saves $2000 a year then would be worth $40,000 on a home or $25,000 on a business. But if the cost of electricity goes up (if that is remotely possible), then wouldn't the value of the solar power system increase as well? In reality, we are not selling something that costs — we are actually offering a financial investment that grows comparably with other forms of energy.
In short, we need to market solar as an investment that will save money while you own it and return most or all of your investment when you sell the building it's sitting on. In commercial real estate, they use a "Cash Flow Analysis" form as the tool to evaluate a building's value using the income approach. We need a similar tool for putting a value on solar. If solar makes sense with this approach, then just think of how much better the systems look when you add the tax advantages!
This approach also applies to the cost of Energy efficiency implementation.
Reducing operational costs increases the value of the business and or property.
Compiled by Jay Draiman, Energy analyst

1:52 am, December 13, 2007  
Blogger mayortom said...

I am a former Mayor and current committeeman from Edgewater Park , Nj.
I have met with a Group of Chinese Business Men who were interested in building a solar panel plant in my community.
I don't know if you are aware of this but power companies are mandated to set aside revenues to fund alternate energy sources. This money is available as the companies themselves do not wish to put the time and revenue into the projects themselves.
I have the connections at the state level to get further information and believe with the right group of individuals could create the first "real" alternate energy generating group/entity.
If you are interested in sharing ideas along these lines, please contact me at my real e-mail address (

12:59 pm, March 18, 2008  
Blogger bsmooth512 said...



please email to Brian H. Dennis

10:24 am, May 16, 2008  

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