Directive Orders Federal Agencies to Add More Solar, Wind and Hydro to Meet Energy Needs

Citing the need for  the  federal government to “ lead by example” to combat global warning and make the transition to a clean-energy economy, President Barack Obama released a memorandum that directs the U.S. federal government to pursue the objective of obtaining 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. The dispatch also provided detailed steps all federal agencies must take to improve energy efficiency reduce energy waste and enhance building performance,

The directive is a follow up to the President’s announcement in June of his plans to combat climate change.  Federal agencies must follow specified, approved actions designed to attain the renewable energy targets, including the following instructions:

(1) Installing agency-funded renewable energy on-site at Federal facilities and retain renewable energy certificates;

(2) Contracting for energy that includes the installation of a renewable energy project on-site at a Federal facility or off-site from a Federal facility and the retention of renewable energy certificates for the term of the contract;

(3) Purchasing electricity and corresponding renewable energy certificates; and

(4) Purchasing renewable energy certificates.

The interim target goals for these program– minimum per fiscal year–are 10% for 2015, 15 percent in 2016 and 2017, 17.5 percent in 2018 and 2019, and 20 percent in fiscal year 2020, and each succeeding fiscal year.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the leading trade association for the U.S. solar industry, called the move a “landmark moment” in the nation’s history.

Sierra Club’s executive director Michael Brune also applauds the policy decision. “Safe, clean energy sources like wind and solar are already providing millions of jobs and powering millions of American homes and businesses,” said Brune. According to Brune, solar, wind and other renewable energy sources have the potential to “power 100 percent of our economy.”

The Department of Defense (DOD) already has in place an aggressive policy to meet its energy needs. In October, the DOD announced its goal to have 25 percent of its energy needs met with solar PV and other renewable energy source by 2025.

One such project is the five-year program called SolarStrong. This initiative will eventually provide solar power to approximately 120,000 military housing units. Expected to create as much as 300 megawatts of solar electricity generation, it has been billed as the largest residential solar photovoltaic project in U.S. history.

The president and CEO of SEIA, Rhone Resch, urge the administration to create a “modern procurement process.” Resch believes the new policy will enable the solar industry to effectively “compete with fossil fuels.” He also encourages the President to give federal agencies the power to enter into long-term power purchase contracts.

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