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QUESTIONS SUBMITTED BY SENATOR COCHRAN
Question: Dr. Trivelpiece, in the FY 1986 Department of Energy Appropriations Act, $1.5 million was provided for a cooperative program involving the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, the Ana G. Mendez Education Foundation, and Jackson State University. For years, these organizations have been involved in a productive relationship which has served to enhance computer science, scientific research, and academic programs.
Recognizing that the FY 1986 adjustments required by the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings sequester has had an impact on implementation of this year's funding allocation, could you give this committee an update as to the current status of this program?
Answer: We received the formal proposal on March 7, 1986, from the Jackson State University/A. G. Mendez Educational Foundation/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory consortium. The proposal requests $1,500,000 from the Department to initiate support for the upgrading and strengthening of the mathematics and science teaching capabilities and programs at both Jackson State and the three colleges in Puerto Rico which are affiliated with the Mendez Foundation. Technical and other assistance in this process would be provided by scientists and staff at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. A major element of this proposed program would be research and teaching internships at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory for faculty members and students at the participating universities.
This proposal is currently undergoing peer review by science education experts in other Federal agencies and in private foundations. Suggestions and comments from these reviewers will be sent to the consortium members for incorporation, as necessary, in a revised proposal and program plan. We anticipate that this process will be concluded by mid-May.
Question: Your statement indicates that this type of program is included in the University Research Support request for FY 1987. What are the plans for this particular program for FY 1987 and the future?
Answer: The FY 1987 budget request for the Office of Energy Research does not include any funds specifically directed at the continued funding of this program. We do have $300,000 included in the budget request for continued "seed" support for cooperative programs involving our national laboratories and minority colleges and universities. We believe that the longer term financial support requested by the Mendez consortium should more properly be considered by private foundations and/or the Department of Education and the National Science Foundation, agencies with more direct responsibilities than DOE for undergraduate science education.
QUESTIONS SUBMITTED BY SENATOR MCCLURE
Basic Energy Sciences
Question: Funds are provided for advanced studies for an advanced steady state reactor in the 1987 budget, and a siting decision appears to have been made as part of the Internal Review Budget process that would put the reactor at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Did the Department follow the NEPA process in making this siting decision?
Answer: The Department fully intends to meet the requirements of the NEPA process prior to taking significant federal action on this project.
Question: Has this siting proposal been put before the DOE Energy Systems Acquisition Panel for its review and decision?
Answer: The Department considered the various proposals for new facilities presented to it and the recommendations of the ERAB to proceed with certain new scientific facilities. It was the Department's decision to site the various facilities at the best possible location considering each laboratories' expertise, past experience, interest, and ability to carry out the objectives of the facility project. This decision was an internal DOE management decision and all procurements associated with this decision will follow the normal Department requirements.
Question: Has the Department made a study of the construction and operational costs of this facility comparing remote sites with populated areas?
Answer: The Department did not make a study of the operational costs of this facility comparing remote sites with populated areas. The site decision was based on a management judgment concerning the best location for an advanced research reactor considering the ORNL wide ranging experience building and operating research reactors, their base of research ongoing related to the activities to be undertaken at the new reactor such as neutron scattering, radiation effects, isotope production, and their base of knowledge achieved in conducting research and development on the reactor design.
QUESTIONS SUBMITTED BY SENATOR DECONCINI
Solar Energy Overview
Question: Last year this committee expressed that it is essential that a viable solar and renewable energy research and development program be maintained in the Department of Energy and that the staff expertise be maintained to properly manage this type of effort. How do you plan to accomplish these goals at the same time that you propose reducing the funding levels for these programs by 50%?
Answer: In each of the applied research and development areas, the need to accomplish reduced Federal outlays has prompted the Department to critically examine every funding proposal. No area of research and development has evaded this review process. In the case of renewable energy, the proposed reductions in new budget authority reflect a variety of considerations including the successful culmination of previous research efforts, a concentration of public investment in the more basic research areas appropriate to the Federal role and tough business decisions among competing technical priorities. The Departmental request for renewable energy reflects a commitment to sustaining a balanced effort among the renewable energy technologies options in a manner which focuses expenditures on the highest priority for scientific and technical investigations.
Question: This is the third year in a row that this Administration has proposed severe cuts in the solar and other renewable energy programs. Do you plan to continue this trend in the outyears?
Answer: While annual resource availability may have varied the overall technical priorities for renewable energy have remained relatively constant over the past several years. The need to reduce Federal deficits has required a further focussing of Departmental proposals on those technical priorities most suited to the Federal role in energy research. These core priorities have remained essentially constant from FY 1985 to FY 1987 and will remain so for the foreseeable future. The proposed FY 1987 budget is part of an overall Federal budget, including outyears, that will meet the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings targets. The outyear projections show a constant purchasing power for the programs at the requested FY 1987 levels.
Question: Do you have any reason beyond the general catchall of deficit reduction for continuing to slash the funding for these programs?
Answer: In addition to the first priority of deficit reduction, renewable energy programs have also been reduced in some cases due to the orderly conclusion of a number of larger engineering development projects which were initiated in prior years. Renewable energy technical progress also has been paralleled by an increasing level of confidence in and commitment to renewable technologies by the private sector. This commitment and confidence is reflected in the development of a group of many small diversified renewable energy businesses and the creation of sizeable divisions of large companies. Utilities, institutions, and States have become increasingly involved with promoting and conducting R&D programs to further advance the knowledge of renewables. Therefore, Federal funding has been limited in those areas where considerable interest has been shown by nongovernment entities. Federal dollars have been focussed on the highest priority research to address the most critical technology base issues which have the greatest relevance and potential for future private sector development.
Question: What evidence, if any, do you have to show that the private sector will not react to the reduced funding level in a like manner; i.e, by slashing or cutting back their own efforts in direct and applied research?
Answer: The Renewable Energy industry is comparatively new and is extremely broad in scope ranging from elements of established major industries to more entreprenurial interests dedicated to pursuing individual technologies. Data concerning the specific financial capabilities and intent of individual firms is both proprietary and comparatively sketchy and assessments of industrial capability must therefore represent professional judgements on our part based on our ongoing dialogue with industry counterparts. However, it is our view that industrial interests will remain high in solar R&D projects even though the DOE funding requests are being reduced. It is expected that the technical progress which can be accomplished under public and private investment will maintain a competitive domestic industrial base.
Question: What is your assessment of the impact that the reduced funding levels will have on our international leadership role in the solar and other renewable energy fields?
Answer: The reduced funding level for solar and renewable energy is not expected to have an impact on the U.S. international leadership role. We believe the domestic renewable energy field currently has a competitive edge on the international markets and this trend should continue due to the increased interest in solar and renewables by the private sector in recent years.
Solar Building Energy Systems
Question: Your budget submitted proposes a $3,481,000 reduction for solar buildings energy systems compared to FY86 levels. What solar buildings programs will not be funded in FY87 or will receive significantly lower allocations as a result of these reduced funding levels?
Answer: The budget reductions are distributed among both the materials and components, and the systems portions of the solar buildings program. In materials and components, research on thin film/polymer and compound parabolic concentrator col
lectors will be reduced. Research on thermal transport materials and closed-cycle absorption cooling will also be reduced. Thus, the primary are23 of research will be in apertures and building surface materials, and in open-cycle cooling. Systems research will be reduced, primarily in the area of daylighting systems that use available technology. Systems research will retain its focus on the full-scale testing of advanced component assemblies for daylighting, cooling and heating.
Solar Building Energy Systems
Question: Could you please identify what specific funding levels have been included in your request for open cycle solar cooling research in FY87.
Answer: The Department's FY87 budget request includes $800,000 for chiller and desiccant materials and components research. Specific activities are: fabricate and test several open cycle absorption chiller including an integral collector/regenerator, and monitor and evaluate operation of prototype systems. These activities include open cycle solar cooling research.
Question: What specific amount has been identified for continuation of the three year three phase open cycle solar cooling contract with Arizona State University.
Answer: Arizona State University is now conducting the first two phases of its open cycle solar cooling research contract. Upon completion of these phases of the contract, the Department will review the research results and determine the funding required for work in Phase III.
Question: Is the funding level that you have proposed sufficient to complete the contract with Arizona State University within the originally specified time frame?
Answer: The proposed level of funding is adequate to complete the Arizona State University contract, provided that the review of the first two phases of the contract support its continuation.
Question: To your knowledge would Arizona State University be able to effectively utilize a higher level of funding on this project than you have proposed? If yes, what is that level?
Answer: The proposed level of funding for open cycle solar cooling research is adequate to accomplish the program's research goals and objectives of the present Arizona State University project.