House and Senate appropriators have laid down their markers for fiscal year 2013 spending on energy research and development and standards support. NEMA advocates for robust budgets that sustain technology development and the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers.
At the Department of Energy, annual investments in research and development have played an important role in the development of Smart Grid. The House and Senate match the president’s R&D request for Smart Grid, energy storage, cybersecurity, and electric transmission, but the House does not provide $20 million for an electricity system hub that the Senate recommends.
The Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy develops high-risk energy technologies. After receiving $275 million last year, the Senate provides a boost to $312 million while the House offers a reduction to $200 million. Both are below the president’s request of $350 million.
The House includes $24.2 million for lighting R&D, of which at least $12 million is for solid-state lighting manufacturing research, development, and commercialization. The Senate bill does not provide a recommendation to this level of specificity. The Senate’s overall allocation ($220 million) for the Building Technologies Program is nearly twice that of the House ($125 million).
The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) plays a critical role in developing advanced materials and deployment of technologies. Congressional support for NIST activities in support of standardization and deployment of Smart Grid technologies is not clear. NEMA believes NIST must continue to facilitate interoperability of Smart Grid devices and systems, as directed by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.
The House and Senate matched the president’s request for $128 million for NIST’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program, which provides advice to small- and medium-sized manufacturers and performs research to support determinations by other agencies on the availability of Buy American–compliant products.
The prospect for Senate floor action before the new fiscal year begins October 1 remains unclear, but NEMA is continuing its advocacy for key electroindustry priorities.
Jim Creevy, Director of Government Relations