“Since 1974 the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has been a key driver of technology innovation in American industry,” noted ASES President Susan Greene. “The lab’s dramatic progress in improving the efficiency of solar and wind power in particular have triggered massive growth of clean-energy industries around the world.
“The American Solar Energy Society encourages the lab’s management to preserve and expand its research programs,” Greene said. “Those programs are critical to American competitiveness as renewable energy industries achieve mainstream economic vitality worldwide.”
According to Bob Noun, NREL’s director of external affairs, the offer will be made to all 1350 technical, nontechnical and management personnel, full time or part time, with more than a year of service. NREL’s total staff, including subcontractors, is about 2600.
The decisions will be based on the extent to which the lab will have to replace the skills and knowledge of the employee,” Noun said. “We need to retain people whose skills and knowledge are essential to meeting our critical mission goals.”
Those goals include ongoing development of technologies in renewable electricity generation and transportation, including fuels and vehicles. “We need to be able to advance those key technologies across the entire spectrum of innovation, from basic research to technology deployment that can have an impact on markets,” Noun said.
NREL estimates that the buyout offer may cost about $8 million in separation pay and medical benefits, Noun said. “The savings will be determined by who steps up,” he said. “The budget effect is hard to quantify now. Our concern is budget cuts we likely face over the next few years. But we’re confident we’ll be able to adjust and preserve our critical mission.”
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