During a House Subcommittee on Energy hearing today about the U.S. Department of Energy's fiscal year 2020 budget, Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) questioned Secretary Rick Perry about the Trump Administration's budget proposal, which encouraged draconian cuts to the Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and to its Solar Energy Technologies Office.
"I guess you're in between a rock and a hard place," said Congressman Sarbanes. "The rock being your personal commitment -- if I can give you credit for that and wanting to invest in [clean energy and energy efficiency initiatives] -- and the hard place being orders that are coming from someplace else in the Administration where that commitment is not as strong."
Sarbanes continued: "I'm looking at the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which has done some great work over the years. I think some of the estimates on the return on investment there, that it's netted about $230 billion for the taxpayers, which is just incredible. But the budget that you've brought here today would cut that office by 86 percent."
"And then you look at the Solar Energy Technologies Office," said Sarbanes. "Again, they've done terrific work. [Solar energy has] been an economic driver, employing over 240,000 Americans, $17 billion of investment in the nation's economy. These are award-winning numbers by any measure, helping to keep driving the commercial cost of solar energy down, because of the continuous attention and focus that that office brings. And that office in your budget would be reduced by 70 percent."
Sarbanes concluded: "Last year, when you were here, we were talking about the importance of the Solar Energy Technology Office's work, how it was helping to make solar electricity more affordable. In Baltimore we've been working on a project -- the DOE was a partner -- to bring this opportunity to low-income homeowners, create a workforce pipeline in the solar industry for people in some of the hard-hit parts of Baltimore City. Do you agree that this Solar Energy Technology Office has done good work and helps to improve affordability, reliability and performance of solar technologies on the grid, and how can they continue to do that good work if they're going to experience -- according to the budget request you're making -- a 70 percent cut in their resources?"
See below for the full exchange.