Super ESPC Promises Energy Savings with Biomass and Alternative Sources of Methane

April 1, 2002

Recently, DOE awarded technology-specific Super Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPCs) to five energy service companies (ESCOs) to reduce energy use, manage utility costs, and promote renewable energy at Federal facilities by using biomass and alternative sources of methane. "In his National Energy Plan, President Bush directed the Federal government, the nation's largest energy consumer, to lead by example," Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham said in announcing the new contracts. He added that these contracts "encourage innovative bio-based energy technologies to reduce Federal energy consumption, without cost to the American taxpayers. Our goal is to make bioenergy cost-competitive with traditional energy sources."

The ESCOs selected for the Super ESPC program for biomass and alternative sources of methane are:

  • Constellation Energy Source, Baltimore, Maryland;
  • DTE Biomass Energy, Inc., Ann Arbor, Michigan;
  • Energy Systems Group, Evansville, Indiana;
  • Systems Engineering and Management Corporation, Knoxville, Tennessee; and
  • Trigen Development Corporation, Baltimore, Maryland.

Biomass includes dedicated energy crops and trees, agricultural crop residues, aquatic plants, wood and wood residues, animal wastes, and other organic waste materials. Alternative sources of methane include landfills, wastewater treatment plants, and coalbeds.

Working with FEMP, these companies will develop, finance, and implement projects that guarantee energy-related cost savings at Federal facilities by using biomass and alternative methane fuels. In return, the companies receive fixed payments derived from the energy cost savings achieved. Since the capital investment comes from the private sector, the projects do not require Federal appropriations. The projects performed under these contracts can be at any Federal site throughout the world. The total awarded value of these contracts is estimated to be up to $200 million, with energy-related cost savings in excess of that amount.

Although biomass and alternative methane fuel applications such as steam and on-site power generation will be integral to each project, a variety of other conservation measures such as retrofits to lighting, motors, and HVAC systems may be included to further reduce energy costs.

This ESPC supports the goals of two Executive Orders:

  • Executive Order 13123, "Efficient Energy Management," which requires Federal agencies to reduce energy use in Federal buildings by 35 percent from 1985 levels by 2010.
  • Executive Order 13134, "Developing and Promoting Bio-based Products and Bioenergy," which seeks to stimulate the creation and early adoption of technologies needed to make bioenergy cost-competitive in large markets.

The biomass and alternative methane fuels Super ESPC also supports the National Energy Plan by increasing energy supplies, promoting energy security, and improving the environment. The National Energy Technology Laboratory, under the direction of FEMP, is conducting a market assessment to identify Federal facilities that are in close proximity to potential biomass and alternative methane sources.

FEMP has issued three other technology-specific Super ESPCs to help Federal facilities adopt specific emerging technologies. These Super ESPCs focus on solar thermal concentrating systems (high temperature solar devices that generate electricity or provide heat used in boilers and laundries), photovoltaics, and geothermal heat pump systems. Technology-specific Super ESPCs give Federal agencies access to new or emerging technologies that have outstanding potential for saving energy and money at Federal sites.

For more information on the biomass and alternative methane fuels Super ESPC, please contact Steve Cooke of the National Energy Technology Laboratory at 304-285-5437 or, or Danette Delmastro of FEMP at 202-586-7632 or Also see FEMP's web site at