President’s visit to NREL comes in wake of layoffs
For the Reporter-Herald
GOLDEN -- Ali Mohagheghi expected bad news when a senior director at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory interrupted a meeting Tuesday morning and asked to see him.
Only three years away from retirement, Mohagheghi, 58, became one of 32 people laid off at the federal laboratory because of a $28 million budget cut.
“It was horrible,” he said. “He kept saying that I had until 3 p.m. to leave.”
The senior biochemical engineer had worked for the laboratory for 22 years, converting biomass, such as trees, into fuels and chemicals, such as ethanol.
His computer was disabled and his phone turned off; a manager escorted him out of the building at 3 p.m.
“How do you expect, after 22 years, to wrap everything up in a few hours?” Mohagheghi said, adding that he lost his job and some dignity that day.
“I didn’t deserve to be treated this way,” he said.
The layoffs came after President Bush’s State of the Union address Jan. 31 sparked optimism at NREL. The president said Americans were addicted to oil, and he vowed funding for renewable energy research.