The federal National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden on Monday offered voluntary buyouts to its 1,700 employees in response to anticipated budget cuts in its fiscal 2012 year. Between 100 and 150 employees are expected to take the offer, NREL spokeswoman Kerry Masson said. The federal budget for fiscal year 2011 ended Friday, and a new federal budget for fiscal 2012 hasnâ¿¿t been approved by Congress. But Masson said NREL expects budget reductions over the next several years. In fiscal 2011 year, NREL received $232 million from Congress, she said. â¿¿We feel weâ¿¿re going to have budget impacts,â¿ Masson said. â¿¿Weâ¿¿re offering the program in anticipation for budget reductions over the next several years, because maximizing the savings in the next several years will maximize the number of jobs we can save if people left now.â¿ Employees have three weeks to apply for the program; NREL hopes to close the program by the end of November. NRELâ¿¿s plan for voluntary buyouts was approved by the U.S. Department of Energy, which requested plans for budget cuts from all the federal labs, Masson said. â¿¿If 100 take it, thatâ¿¿s fine,â¿ Masson said. â¿¿If 150 take it, thatâ¿¿s fine. If 75 people take it, thatâ¿¿s fine, too.â¿ Masson said the lab currently doesnâ¿¿t have plans to start forced layoffs if enough people donâ¿¿t take the voluntary buyout, which includes provisions for severance pay and medical benefits. NREL laid off about 30 people in late 2005, but quickly rehired them in early 2006 when money was transferred to the lab in advance of a visit and speech by then-President George Bush. The lab cut its employee numbers by 200 in 1996 due to budget cuts, Masson said. U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), whose district includes NREL, blamed â¿¿Washington Republicansâ¿ for the federal budget impasse and NRELâ¿¿s decision to offer voluntary buyouts.