Energy Policy Act of 2005 Set New Renewable Energy Goals for the Federal Sector

March 7, 2007

The federal mandate for renewable energy has been growing over the last 10 years. In 1994, Executive Order (E.O.) 12902 recommended that federal agencies develop plans to use renewable energy. This was followed in 1999 with E.O. 13123, which required that the Secretary of Energy set a goal for federal renewable energy use. Now the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (Public Law 109-58) puts the force of law into the federal renewable energy goal.

Section 203 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT 2005) defines the renewable energy goals for the federal sector: "The President, acting through the Secretary, shall seek to ensure that, to the extent economically feasible and technically practicable, of the total amount of electric energy the federal government consumes during any fiscal year, the following amounts shall be renewable energy:

  1. Not less than 3 percent in fiscal years 2007 through 2009.
  2. Not less than 5 percent in fiscal years 2010 through 2012.
  3. Not less than 7.5 percent in fiscal year 2013 and each fiscal year thereafter."

EPACT 2005 defines renewable energy as "electrical energy" generated from various resources of renewable energy. It expands the renewable energy definition to include new hydroelectric and ocean power options such as tidal, wave, current, and thermal resources. New hydro generation capacity is defined as that occurring due to increased efficiency or additions of new capacity at an existing hydroelectric project. EPACT 2005 continues to include the renewable energy resources biomass, geothermal, solar, and wind defined in E.O. 13123. The Executive Order guidance issued by the Secretary of Energy defined the goal as "the equivalent of 2.5 percent of federal electricity use." This was done in order to allow agencies to count all forms of renewable energy (thermal, electric, mechanical) toward the E.O 13123 goal.

Section 204 is another applicable section of EPACT 2005 in terms of renewable energy. It authorizes the Administrator of the General Services Administration to establish a photovoltaics commercialization program to accelerate the growth of a commercially viable photovoltaics industry to attain the goal of installing solar energy systems in 20,000 federal building solar roofs by 2010.

The Federal Energy Management Program developed new renewable goal guidance through the Renewable Energy Working Group (RWG). The guidance includes items such as what counts towards the goal, the definition of "new" for renewable power/renewable energy certificate (REC) purchases in particular, and what types of on-site projects will get double credit (Section 203 (C)). For example, what if a site sells off the RECs associated with their on-site project?

Some of these issues were also addressed in the original E.O. 13123 renewable goal guidance. The guidance process for EPACT 2005 included reviewing the E.O. 13123 guidance and adapting it under the new legislation. The E.O. 13123 guidance and the draft can be found here (PDF 1.5 MB) Download Adobe Reader and http://www1.eere.energy.gov/femp/renewable_energy/renewable_workinggroup.html. Comments were received on the draft guidance, and FEMP plans to issue revised guidance for comment soon.

For more information, please contact Anne Crawley of FEMP at ann.crawley@ee.doe.gov or 202-586-1505.