DOE shakeup in the works. Grid research at risk?


By: SGN Staff


By Jesse Berst


The New York Times reports that the U.S. Department of Energy's own Inspector General proposes a "wholesale restructuring" of the department's far-flung laboratories. One goal is to tighten scrutiny of the DOE's controversial loan guarantee program.


But another is to streamline the research operation, which currently runs 16 laboratories. Inspector General Gregory Friedman wants to combine certain laboratories and eliminate others, with the consolidation overseen by an independent panel.


Although it is still too early to know, the downsizing could affect smart grid and smart energy research programs at laboratories such as Oak Ridge, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley. The report warned that the changes could "have a significant impact” in states like Idaho, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington, where DOE operations are among the largest employers.


The details... some of Friedman's specific criticisms and comments:

·         DOE spent nearly $13 billion annually to operate 16 separate laboratories - only half went to research and 49% paid for overhead and capital spending

·         The department's research complex is "organized essentially as it has been for over a half-century"

·         The DOE loan guarantee program should be placed on a department "watch list

·         DOE probably will be required to drop the $6 billion it spends every year on cleaning up pollution caused by nuclear weapons production


Jesse Berst is the founder and chief analyst of Smart Grid He consults to smart grid companies seeking market entry advice and M&A advisory. A frequent keynoter at industry events in the US and abroad, he also serves on the Advisory Council of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's Energy & Environment directorate.


You might also be interested in ...

Is it time to rethink DOE's Solyndra-like loan guarantees?

The DOE giveth... the FBI taketh away?

Filed Under