At a signing ceremony before employees of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Deputy Energy Secretary Kyle McSlarrow congratulated Midwest Research Institute (MRI) for its performance on the first six years of the laboratory’s management and operating contract and exercised the option for the remaining four. Battelle Memorial Institute of Columbus, Ohio is also part of the laboratory management team.Golden, Colorado – April 15, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] “The work performed by NREL is absolutely critical to our national security,” Deputy Secretary McSlarrow said. “Developing reliable, affordable domestic sources of energy and using energy more efficiently are the only ways we can reduce our reliance on imported oil. For every improvement in renewable energy technology you develop, for every new megawatt of electricity or gallon of alternative fuel that is produced as a result, you make our nation a little more secure.” The current contract is the result of a 1998 competition which led to the selection of the MRI. The original term of the contract was five years, with an option for up to five more. DOE granted a one-year extension last year, and today, exercised the option for the remainder. NREL’s annual budget is more than $200 million, making the potential value over the remainder of the contract more than $800 million, depending on congressional appropriations for renewable energy and energy efficiency programs. The laboratory has a permanent staff of around 1,000. With visiting scholars, temporary workers and lab staff is normally around 1,200. NREL is the nation’s primary laboratory for research and development of such energy technologies as solar, wind, hydrogen, biomass electricity, biofuels and building energy efficiency. Established in 1977 as the Solar Energy Research Institute, the laboratory was renamed in 1991 to reflect its expanded mission and importance. MRI is an independent, not-for-profit research institute, conducting work in the areas of energy research, life science, pharmaceutical product development, national security and defense, agriculture and food safety and engineering. MRI is headquartered in Kansas City, with additional laboratories in Florida and Maryland, has managed the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory since 1977.