Federal Government Surpasses Renewable Energy Goal

March 7, 2007

The federal government exceeded the Executive Order 13123 goal of obtaining the equivalent of 1,395 gigawatt-hours (GWh)—equal to 2.5 percent of electricity consumption in federal facilities—from renewable energy sources by 2005. Federal agencies are leading by example by installing on-site renewable projects and purchasing renewable power that together total at least 2,599 GWh—enough to power 242,900 homes, or a city the size of Little Rock, Arkansas, for a year.

Every agency played a role in meeting the goal, and every renewable energy technology is represented in the goal. Eighteen out of 24 agencies have photovoltaic systems. Seven agencies have on-site wind projects. Thousands of geothermal ground source heat pumps have been installed across the federal government. The Department of Defense, the largest energy consumer in the United States, accomplished one-half of the total amount and the General Services Administration (GSA), the government landlord, accomplished about 20 percent of the goal. One of the smallest federal energy consumers, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), dedicated the highest proportion of its own internal electric energy use (about 76 percent) to renewable energy, contributing more than 230 GWh toward the goal. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) developed a groundbreaking purchase of landfill gas to contribute another 108 GWh. The Department of Justice developed the largest solar water heating facility in the federal government.

The goal was established in 1999 as a result of Executive Order 13123 and includes renewable energy from biomass, geothermal, solar, and wind projects. At that time, most renewable energy used in the federal government was from older projects. Newrenewable energy from projects built after 1990 was a tiny fraction of overall federal renewable energy use (173 GWh). Renewable energy certificates (RECs) and green power were fledgling ideas that were just starting to enter the market.

The goal for 2005 was a serious challenge. Remarkably, six years later, the federal government exceeded the goal ahead of the September 30, 2005 deadline. Though few would have bet on it in 1999, purchases of RECs and power by agencies grew to become the majority of federal renewable energy consumption - 2,245 GWh. Recent federal REC purchases include: the Air Force (829 GWh), The Department of Veteran Affairs (87 GWh), and the Department of Homeland Security (20 GWh). Federal agencies have reported even more renewable energy usage on their FY 2006 Federal Energy Management Scorecards, so the current federal renewable energy count is conservative.

The increased use of renewable energy has diversified federal energy supplies and reduced emissions. Federal energy managers are more familiar with renewable energy technologies and how to take advantage of GSA Federal Supply Schedules for solar and other renewable energy technology. GSA and the Defense Energy Support Center have played important roles in helping the federal sector meet their renewable energy goal by pioneering new approaches to purchasing renewable power such as RECs.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005, Section 203, establishes new, statutory renewable energy goals for the federal government that will help renewable energy continue to expand its role in the federal energy supply to 7.5 percent by 2013 and beyond. Thanks to Executive Order 13123 the federal government has a healthy start toward meeting the new goal on time - or maybe ahead of schedule.

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