Secretary of Energy, California Officials Share Strategies to Reduce Energy Use

May 4, 2001

Jeanne Lopatto, 202/586-4940
Jill Schroeder, 202/586-4940
May 4, 2001

Effort Supports President Bush's Initiative to Conserve Energy

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham met with federal officials in San Francisco today to determine how federal agencies based in California can cut energy demand even further to help relieve the California energy crisis. The meeting followed President George W. Bush's announcement yesterday requiring federal agencies to take immediate steps to conserve energy and reduce peak load at their facilities.

"President Bush has directed the federal government to be more energy-conscious, to save energy now and in the immediate future," said Secretary Abraham. "The Department of Energy has accepted the challenge to lead this effort on behalf of the President."

The federal government uses approximately 1.5 percent of the total energy load in California. With the potential for electricity shortages in California, the Northeast and the Northwest this summer, the President's directive calls on the federal government to set an example for the rest of the country by reducing its own energy use.

Federal agencies in California have already demonstrated how they can successfully reduce peak demand, making a sizable contribution to the effort to avoid electrical emergencies. To build on these contributions the Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a detailed action plan that calls on federal facilities in California to take additional steps to reduce energy use particularly during peak hours. During Stage 2 or Stage 3 emergencies in California facilities are to rapidly reduce electricity loads through increasing indoor air temperature to 78 degrees or shutting off non-essential equipment and lighting. Every federal facility in California is asked to participate in the May 24th Emergency Load Reduction Test sponsored by the California Energy Commission. This exercise will require federal, state, and local governments and private sector businesses to reduce peak loads and conserve energy as if a Stage 3 emergency had been declared. The California Independent System Operator will monitor the load reductions.

The Energy Department's action plan includes directives for federal managers to pre-cool buildings during off-peak times. Employees are asked to be diligent in reducing their use of lighting and office equipment. Within 30 days, agencies are required to report to the President, through Secretary Abraham, on which conservation actions have been taken. Secretary Abraham has asked DOE's Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) to work with federal agencies to implement the President's directive. FEMP will deploy Assessment of Load and Energy Reduction Techniques (ALERT) Teams in up to 24 of the largest energy consuming facilities in California to identify short-term energy saving opportunities. FEMP leverages both federal and private resources to provide financing, technical assistance, and outreach to help federal agencies implement clean energy projects.

These actions complement ongoing federal energy management efforts led by the Department of Energy. To date, the federal government reduced energy consumption in FY 1999, the most recent year with complete figures, by over 20 percent relative to 1985 consumption levels, saving taxpayers over $19 billion. For all end-use sectors, the federal energy bill for FY 1999 decreased 7.5 percent from the previous year alone. Energy costs for federal buildings decreased 47.8 percent from 1985 in constant 1999 dollars, from $15.2 billion in FY 1985 to slightly less than $8 billion in 1999. Energy consumption was measured in buildings, facilities, energy intensive operations, vehicles and equipment. The Department of Energy alone has achieved a reduction of 47.4% in site energy use in FY 2000 from the FY 1985 baseline.

Federal agencies are working towards a 35 percent reduction in energy use by 2010 relative to the 1985 baseline. The steps taken by federal agencies in response to the President's directive are expected to reduce federal energy demand by 10 percent during peak hours.