Western Area Power Administration Unveils Federal Green Power Purchasing Program

November 11, 2003

The Western Area Power Administration (Western) recently announced a new program designed to increase the renewable power options available to federal agencies. In collaboration with FEMP, Western has developed a program designed to help federal agencies take advantage of the benefits of renewable energy for some or all of their electricity needs.

Through the program, federal agencies can now purchase three renewable energy products:

  • renewable power,

  • supplemental renewable power, and

  • renewable energy certificates (green tags).

Initial marketing efforts for the program are focused on those agencies that have firm power allocations from Western, although any federal agency can purchase the renewable energy certificate option.

Through the renewable power option, Western can buy renewable energy for federal agencies with load within Western's 15-state service territory, whether or not the agency is an existing Western customer. With this option, renewable energy is physically delivered for the agency's use. To allow for power delivery, an agency's existing power supply and transmission arrangements would require modification. Costs would include renewable power generation, transmission, related ancillary services, and program administration. The primary benefits of this product are electricity cost stability and potential lower cost than conventional power generation.

Supplemental renewable energy is also available from Western. This option is available only to existing Western customers. Under this class of service, Western will acquire renewable energy rather than traditional fossil powered generation to supplement firm power deliveries when hydropower resources are low. This product offers energy which either supplements hydropower deliveries and/or replaces some of the firming energy Western purchases with renewable energy. Customers still pay the hydropower price, plus an additional fixed expense for the supplemental renewable energy costs. No new transmission arrangements are required to deliver this power to the customer.

Western can also purchase renewable energy and sell the energy's environmental attributes to a federal customer. These renewable energy certificates, or green tags, can be purchased by federal agencies regardless of location. Under this option, renewable energy is physically delivered to Western's transmission system and then the green tags are delivered to the purchasing federal agency. A federal agency purchasing a green tag need not be an existing Western firm power customer. There are no transmission costs for the purchase of the green tags and no impact on your existing power supplier. Federal facilities continue to pay for the power needed to meet load from their current supplier without charge.

"We're extremely pleased with Western's leadership in providing new options to federal agencies for purchasing renewable energy," said FEMP's Director Elizabeth Shearer. "This program helps federal agencies meet the current federal goal to derive the equivalent of 2.5 percent of facility electricity load from new renewable energy resources by 2005."

Western's Green Tag Program Manager Mike Cowan added, "Western's program promises to provide environmental benefits, such as decreased air pollution from fossil fuel-fired power plants, increases national security by lessening agencies' dependence on imported energy, and supports local economic development by creating local jobs and generating local tax revenue. By offering these three products, we hope to aggregate federal needs and make bigger purchases–improving the financial viability of new renewable energy projects."

"Under this initiative, we are partnering with staff working for DOE's Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and the Federal Energy Management Program, as well as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory," said Western's Administrator Michael Hacskaylo. Western markets and delivers hydroelectric power and related services within a 15-state region of the central and western United States (Arizona, California, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming).

How Do Federal Agencies Sign Up?

Federal agencies interested in renewable power can sign commitment letters with Western detailing the type of product desired, the quantity to be purchased, and the desired price range. Western will then issue a request for proposal. The resulting bids will be reviewed, and if determined to be acceptable, Western will sign a contract with the renewable energy provider and with each of the federal agency site(s).

For more information, please see www.wapa.gov/powerm/pmrenpro.htm. For additional information, please contact Mike Cowan of Western at 720-962-7245 or cowan@wapa.gov, or Chandra Shah of NREL at 303-384-7557 or chandra_shah@nrel.gov.