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White House Calls for Federal Agencies to Source 20% of Energy from Renewables by 2020

Dec 5, 2013 - powermag.com

Continuing his promise to take action on climate change outside of new legislation, President Obama today issued an executive order calling for federal agencies to secure 20% of their energy from renewable sources by 2020. This would nearly triple the federal government’s current consumption of renewable energy. A 2009 order had previously set the target at 7.5%, which it reached for FY2013.

The order contains an array of policies designed to drive development of new renewable capacity. In order of priority, agencies can take the following actions to meet the goal:

  • Installing agency-funded renewable generation on-site
  • Contracting for energy that includes new on-site generation or off-site from another federal facility
  • Purchasing electricity and corresponding renewable energy certificates
  • Purchasing renewable energy certificates

Any renewable energy certificates must be produced by new renewable sources.

The order also includes interim targets before 2020. Agencies are required to reach 10% renewables by 2015, 15% by 2016, and 17.5% by 2018. It also includes provisions to improve the energy efficiency of federal buildings, mainly through improved monitoring and the existing Green Button initiative.

The order covers both civilian and military agencies, including the Department of Defense (DOD), though the DOD had previously set a target of 25% by 2025.

The order is certain to spark opposition in Congress, where House Republicans have introduced legislation to block the President’s Climate Action plan, as well as further inflame fossil-fuel industry advocates who have accused the administration of waging a “war on coal.”

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) released a statement denouncing the initiative. “Time and time again, the President and members of his Administration fail to acknowledge the multitude of economic and electric reliability consequences of supplanting renewable fuel sources with coal-fueled electricity, and now our federal government will become a model for bad policy,” said Laura Sheehan, ACCCE senior vice president of communications.

Environmental groups predictably hailed the order. “The President understands that getting our energy future on the right path is an essential foundation that our country needs in order to be competitive, provide jobs and protect our health and environment,” said Environmental Defense Fund president Fred Krupp.

The president is scheduled to announce the order later today, but a copy was leaked to the Associated Press this morning.

—Thomas W. Overton, gas technology editor (@thomas_overton, @POWERmagazine)