The Trump administration is expected to propose massive cuts to federal government research on wind and solar energy next week, according to current and former Energy Department officials familiar with budget discussions.
The department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), which funds research on advanced vehicles as well as other aspects of clean energy, would face a roughly 70 percent cut in 2018, carving about $1.45 billion from its $2.09 billion 2017 budget.
These planned cuts were first reported by Axios, which obtained an Energy Department budget document. Two officials reached by the Washington Post, one now with the department and one a former employee, cited numbers very similar or, in some cases, identical to those in that report. It was unclear whether these were the final budget figures, which are expected to be released next week.
Shaylyn Hynes, a spokeswoman for the Energy Department, declined to comment.
The proposed cuts, if enacted, would reverberate dramatically at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo., which has a $292 million federal budget and 2,200 employees. This research center — the incubator for the solar cell technology used by the U.S. firm First Solar — is highly dependent on research funding from EERE.
The consequences of the proposed cuts could be wide ranging, potentially undermining the office’s SunShot Initiative, which has worked to drive down the costs of large-scale solar energy.