The Reagan administration has attached a broad amendment to its revised budget for next year that would eliminate or reduce in scope more than three dozen energy programs Congress has enacted over the last seven years.
The programs have objectives as diverse as setting energy consumption standards for household appliances and new buildings, requiring detailed financial reports from large oil companies, and boosting electricity generation of the Wind Energy Systems Act passed only last year.
Shortly after taking office, the administration pulled back for "reevaluation" a set of energy efficiency requirements for appliances that were about to become final. Proposed language for a Department of Energy appropriations bill discloses an intention to kill the standards, which have been strongly opposed by many appliance manufacturers, particularly smaller ones.
Similarly, energy performance standards for new buildings, required under a 1976 law but opposed by a variety of groups, including the National Association of Home Builders, would be abandoned.
The residential conservation service, a program with strong congressional backing, also would bite the dust. Under it, electric and gas utilities are required to perform "energy audits" on the homes of customers who ask them to do so, assist the customers in having desired weatherization or insulation work done and inspect the results.
Such programs are under way in Rhode Island and Nebraska, and most other utilities were to begin participation this summer. Utilities in Connecticut have 22,000 requests for such audits, Department of Energy officials said, indicating that some companies may continue the program without federal support.
All of the program cutbacks reflect an administration preference for the marketplace and high energy prices rather than government programs to encourage more production of energy and more conservation.
"The budget reductions are in response to the fact that, motivated by rising energy costs and substantial federal tax credits, individuals, businesses and other institutions are undertaking major conservation efforts," a DOE budget document said.
At the same time, federal research and development programs are to be "geared to longer term, high-risk efforts to expand future energy supplies . . ." that businesses are not likely to undertake, it said.
DOE officials chose to use the proposed appropriations bill amendment because Congress has been unable for several years to pass the annual DOE authorization bill, in which such changes could be made. Without the proposed amendment they fear they would be forced to apportion some of the usual lump-sum appropriation to the programs they want to dump.
"To discontinue such programs," an administration description of the budget changes said, "it is necessary to state specifically that no funds are requested to implement requirements of certain [legislative] acts."
Among the other programs to be killed:
Energy impact assistance to states: a $65 million program of grants to help states mitigate the economic and social impact of large energy production projects, such as those being built in western Colorado for oil shale.
Energy extension service: a $20 million congressional initiative, modeled after the Agriculture Department's extension service that uses county agents, that is in operation in every state. President Carter had intended to fold EES into a $101 million energy management partnership act covering a variety of federal assistance to state and local governments, but the $101 million is not in President Reagan's budget.
Industrial energy conservation: a $74 million program supporting research and demonstrations of ways to reduce waste and improve the energy efficiency of industrial processes.
Driver awareness, a program under which drivers, particularly those of fleet vehicles, have been taught how to use less fuel. At least one oil company, Atlantic Richfield Co., has sponsored a similar program.
Other cutbacks are proposed in automobile engine research, methane fuel research, support for small hydroelectric projects, solar photovoltaic research, electric and hybrid vehicle demonstrations, use of urban waste to generate electricity, weatherization assistance, and a variety of information collection programs.
Al Linden, acting director of the Energy Information Administration, said some of the proposed reductions in information collection involved results "that not very many people have ever looked at."
Linden said the financial reports required of the 26 largest energy firms "are very burdensome for the information we get out of them." Several years ago members of Congress demanded such reports because they felt they could not trust the oil companies to provide adequate accurate information about their operations.