The House bill provides $50 million for the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E), which funds high-risk research projects. That is enough money to keep the agency’s offices open, but not enough for it to award many new research grants, Clemins says. The president is requesting $550 million for ARPA-E. His budget also includes $146 million to support three existing Energy Innovation Hubs and to start three new ones. The hubs are designed to address basic research challenges in specific areas in energy while also pushing to develop prototypes and help bring research advances to market. The House bill contains no funding for new hubs, and by severely cutting DOE programs, it could put funding for the existing hubs in jeopardy, Clemins says.
The House bill would also eliminate loan guarantees for non-nuclear energy projects, including solar projects. The Solar Energy Industry Association says that this will stop funding for six projects that are going forward based on conditional loan commitments from the government. Another 20 projects that have yet to receive such commitments would also lose out on funding.
William Bates, vice president of government affairs at the Council on Competitiveness, says that the House bill should be considered the opening move in bargaining among the Republican controlled House, the Democratic Senate, and President Obama. Because there has historically been strong Republican and Democratic support for funding R&D in agencies such at the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, he expects that they will continue to get steady funding, in spite of the fact that these agencies stand to lose $2 billion between them under the current House bill.