President Bush Admits to Mixed Signals on Renewable Energy

February 21, 2006 by Jeff Shepard

Tuesday of this week, President Bush told workers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden Colorado, "I recognize that there has been some interesting -- let me say -- mixed signals when it comes to funding. The issue, of course, is whether or not good intentions are met with actual dollars spent. Part of the issue we face, unfortunately, is that there are sometimes decisions made, but as a result of the appropriations process, the money may not end up where it was supposed to have gone."

Over the weekend, U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman had transferred money to restore jobs at NREL, according to a department news release. According to the Associated Press, 32 workers, including eight researchers, were laid off two weeks ago at the lab. The Department of Energy statement said the $5 million was transferred from other accounts and could be replaced with money from projects that "have failed to make progress."

"The programs at NREL are critically important to realizing the president's vision to diversify and strengthen our nation's energy mix," U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said in the statement. "The action we are taking today will allow the dedicated employees at NREL to continue their work that will bring us great innovation in renewable energy technologies."

"NREL is doing a lot of important work on solar and wind technology. The vision for solar is one day each home becomes a little power unit unto itself, that photovoltaic processes will enable you to become a little power generator, and that if you generate more power than you use, you can feed it back into the grid," observed President Bush during his visit to NREL.

"And finally, wind. We don't have a lot of turbines in Washington, but there's a lot of wind there, I can assure you of that. But there are parts of the country where there are turbines. They say to me that there's about six percent of the country that's perfectly suited for wind energy, and that if the technology is developed further, that it's possible we could generate up to 20 percent of our electricity needs through wind and turbine," the President concluded.