ACEEE and the Alliance for Materials Manufacturing Excellence (AMMEX) remain impressed with the President’s focus on the importance of manufacturing to the American economy. So when the Administration released its budget request for fiscal year 2013 last month, we were pleased to see, for the second year in row, a substantial increase in the requested funding for the Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO; formerly the Industrial Technologies Program).
AMO is one of only a few national programs aimed at helping American manufacturers, and the only one with a focus on energy efficiency. The President’s request for $290 million would allow the program to appropriately expand its offerings. AMMEX has worked with the DOE for years to recommend programs that serve a direct need for American manufacturers to remain globally competitive and to encourage increased industry participation and greater private sector investment
However, recently AMO has begun to change its strategic direction and to move away from some of the energy-intensive-industry co-funded R&D that was a hallmark or the program’s acknowledged success. Looking closer at the recent budget request, those familiar with the program from past years notice an astonishing lack of detail as to how the funds will be spent. There are descriptions of both the new and old programs, but very little indication of specifics as to where the investments will be made. AMMEX and ACEEE support a balanced portfolio for AMO that addresses both long-term needs through R&D, but also brings near-term technology to market. To paraphrase David Terry, Executive Director of the Association of State Energy Research and Technology Transfer Institutions (ASERTTI): “We need both technologies for the future but also for today.”
In a memo issued last week, AMMEX offers the following recommendations:
- A strong AMO budget allocation of between $250 and $300 million for FY2013;
- At least 25% of the overall AMO budget should be targeted to cost-share R&D with energy-intensive industrial sectors, such as those partnered with under the Industries of the Future (IOF) program;
- At least 15% of the overall AMO budget should be targeted to combined heat and power (CHP) research and deployment;
- At least 25% of the overall AMO budget should be targeted to technology deployment activities that support today’s industry implementing newly commercialized energy efficiency technologies and energy management best practices, including between $6 and $10 million for the Industrial Assessment Center (IAC) program; and
- Transparency of funding allocations within the AMO program’s FY2013 budget.
AMMEX also suggested a way to apportion the 2013 budget request to align AMO with both the President’s focus on manufacturing and recent Congressional support of individual program offerings.
ACEEE has added a recommended apportionment in the event that the AMO budget is closer to the 2012 level. Even though support for U.S. manufacturing and energy efficiency is seen as a bipartisan issue, the tight budget environment may make a significant funding increase difficult. The final column in the above table would align AMO resources with the needs of the manufacturing community.
Separately, several CHP supporters, including ACEEE, are preparing a letter to appropriators to encourage them to designate funding for the DOE’s CHP activities within AMO. CHP has been funded at the $25 million level for several years and this letter will encourage continued funding for CHP development and deployment activities in the 2013 AMO budget.
Click image to enlarge: