This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

April 10, 2002

DOE's Renewable, Efficiency Office Releases Program Review

DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) released the results of its Strategic Program Review late last month. The review of DOE's energy efficiency and renewable energy programs was called for in the President's National Energy Policy. The review concluded that EERE generates significant public benefits and often exhibits scientific excellence in its research. However, the review also found that 20 EERE projects should be terminated, including research in natural gas vehicle engines, concentrating solar power troughs, and residential refrigerators. It also suggested redirecting six initiatives and processes, including the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles, which has already been redirected into the FutureCAR program. The review established a "watch list" of programs and projects that require close monitoring, specifically calling out projects designated by Congress. Such Congressional "earmarks" currently comprise nearly one fourth of the appropriations for renewable energy.

As noted in the report, EERE's historic performance includes being among the top recipients worldwide of the prestigious R&D100 Award and earning returns of 20 to 1 on its research investment, as determined by the National Academy of Sciences' National Research Council (NRC). In the past five years, EERE's partnership activities have involved more than 2,000 individuals in technology roadmapping alone, and EERE has nearly 3,000 current contracts with industry, universities, national laboratories, and others. Indicators of EERE's performance-based management include roughly two-thirds of its research and development funding currently going through competitive solicitations, and undergoing more than 20 external peer reviews by the NRC alone. The report recommends that EERE continue such "best practices" and apply them evenly across all the programs.

As part of the Strategic Program Review, EERE solicited public comments through town meetings in seven cities. These meetings, along with e-mail and postal mail responses, resulted in 4,279 public comments, of which more than 99 percent expressed strong support for EERE programs. Many of the supportive comments were based on the rationale that EERE's programs would enable the nation to meet its energy needs through clean power technologies. The broad topic area that received the most attention in the public comments was the environment, followed by economic, budget, and energy security issues. Of the recommendations directed at EERE in the public comments, the most prevalent, identified in more than 90 percent of the comments, was the recommendation to increase EERE's funding level.

This newsletter and the EREN Web site are among the many projects funded by EERE. Thanks to any readers who participated in the town meetings or provided comments. See the full report (PDF 1.5 MB) on the EERE Web site on EREN. Download Acrobat Reader

EERE isn't resting on its laurels — the office continues to examine national priorities for energy efficiency in the upcoming E-Vision 2002 conference, building on the success of the previous E-Vision 2000 conference. In mid-May, EERE will gather together industry executives, senior government officials, leading analysts and researchers, and public decision makers to help establish a national priority for energy efficiency. The conference will take place in Arlington, Virginia on May 14-16. See the conference announcement.