President Bush Promotes the Advanced Energy Initiative
February 22, 2006
President George W. Bush focused on energy in late February to promote his Advanced Energy Initiative. On February 20th, President Bush released a detailed description of the initiative and visited Johnson Controls, which is developing advanced hybrid batteries, and United Solar Ovonic LLC, a solar cell manufacturer. United Solar Ovonic—a wholly owned subsidiary of Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. (ECD)—announced on February 16th that it will expand its manufacturing capacity from its current 25 megawatts of solar cells per year to 300 megawatts per year by 2010. During his visits, the President discussed the promise of solar cells; wind power; hybrid vehicles; plug-in hybrids; ethanol fuels made from both corn and from cellulosic biomass, such as switchgrass or wood chips; and hydrogen and its use in fuel cell vehicles. The President also discussed clean coal and nuclear power technologies. See the ECD press release, the detailed description of the Advanced Energy Initiative, and the White House press releases on the President's visits to Johnson Controls and United Solar Ovonic.
On February 21st, the President visited DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the first presidential visit to the laboratory in 28 years. At NREL, President Bush joined in a panel discussion with NREL Director Dan Arvizu; Larry Burns of the General Motors Corporation; Patty Stulp, who runs an ethanol blending business; Bill Frey of DuPont; Lori Vaclavik of Habitat for Humanity; Pat Vincent of the Public Service Company of Colorado; and DOE's Dale Gardner. See the White House's abbreviated transcript of the discussion.
A $28-million budget shortfall at NREL recently led to a layoff of 32 employees, including 8 researchers and 24 support staff. On February 20th, DOE transferred an additional $5 million to NREL to allow all the jobs to be immediately restored. See the NREL and DOE press releases.