Editor, The Independent,
I am writing in response to the recent Farm City dinner where Liesl Eichler Clark, co-founder of 5 Lakes Energy of Lansing, was the guest speaker. Ms. Clark calls herself a “consultant” on energy policies, but according to the Michigan Secretary of State website, she is a registered lobbyist. Information on the website indicates Ms. Clark is registered under 5 Lake Energy LLC as a lobbyist who became active Nov. 2, 2013. She is one of three lobbyists hired by 5 Lakes Energy LLC for lobbying purposes in the State of Michigan.
With that said, I would also like to comment on the material she used in her presentation to state and county officials, and others in attendance. Ms. Clark used information cited by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. She did not mention that the NREL is a government-owned, contractor-operated facility that is funded through the United States Department of Energy (DOE). Wikipedia states that this arrangement allows a private entity to operate the lab on behalf of the federal government under a prime contract. The operating agency is MRIGlobal and Battelle Memorial Institute. They are one of two entities in the company, Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC. The NREL receives funding from Congress to be applied toward research and development projects. In 2014, its fiscal year budget was 271 million dollars.
Congressional appropriations in the 2016 fiscal year budget, provided NREL $17.7 million for wind energy research, Solar Energy $55.5 million, Biomass and Biorefinery Systems R&D $56.3 million, Hydrogen Technology $17.8 million, Geothermal Technology $3.8 million, and water power $14.1 million. The NREL justifies using our tax dollars because of “innovative technologies” and “enhancing commercial impact and societal benefit.” The University of California operates Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory under a contract with the U.S. Department of Energy.
The site consists of 76 buildings (owned by DOE), located on 200 acres, owned by the university in Berkeley Hills. According to Wikipedia, the lab has some 4,000 UC employees and two dozen DOE employees, stationed at the laboratory to “provide federal oversight of Berkeley Lab’s work for DOE.” The lab’s budget for fiscal year 2015 was $790 million. Anytime you hear of government studies or reports used by lobbyists and energy companies, remember the “biased” sources. Not to mention the waste of taxpayer dollars.
Thomas J. Foster, New Haven Township