NREL: Big Green Empire
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) located in beautiful Golden, Colorado, is the federal government’s primary research facility for renewable energy for the Department of Energy (DOE).
According to its Web site, NREL has enjoyed an enormous budget increase over the last two years. As the economy slowed in 2007, NREL saw its budget decrease $50 million, but the decrease didn’t last long. The lab benefited from stimulus money and President Obama’s focus on green jobs. By 2010, NREL’s annual funding was $536.5 million, a 63.4 percent increase over 2007.
Interesting about NREL’s organizational structure is that it is funded by taxpayers, owned by the DOE and managed by a third party, Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC, which describes itself as a limited liability company but is also a 501(c)3 according to tax documents. As a non-profit, Alliance is not subject to open records laws.
Update: Michael Sandoval of the People’s Press Collective reveals that this arrangement is quite profitable for ASE:
Alliance for Sustainable Energy assumed operations of NREL in 2008 for $1.1 billion over five years. Nearly $300 million was appropriated for contractual work at NREL (operating as Alliance for Sustainable Energy) through ARRA funding.
Alliance is more than just a management and operating contractor for NREL. Alliance sees itself as a major player in the Big Green Empire with desires to expand renewable energy use throughout the world:
A prime goal of Alliance is to ensure that NREL becomes the catalyst for the creation of a renewable energy epicenter. Initially, it will be centered at the Laboratory, but will eventually expand to help bring about global adoption of clean energy. Alliance wants to create an opportunity for NREL to become the focal point for renewable energy—a “Silicon Valley for renewables.”
One way they are expanding the Big Green Empire is through a massive construction project. Recently, I went to check it out but didn’t get very far. A beefy looking man, stopped my car and inquired as to what I was doing. I said that as a taxpayer I wanted to see what my money was building. Not so fast. NREL has “top secret material” to “build a better future for everyone.” Translation: Get the hell out!
What does Big Green Empire expansion look like? Check out these pictures, after all you paid for it: