Tool helps agencies cut costs on green gov goals

Monday - 3/19/2012, 9:22am EDT

Randy Manion, renewable resource manager for Western Area Power Administration; and Tracy Logan, program analyst with the Federal Energy Management Program

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Agencies have until April 20 to participate in a renewable energy certificates (REC) solicitation that can help them save money on reaching green goals.

According to the Department of Energy, two products are produced by renewable energy projects — electricity and the environmental benefits of the renewable energy, the RECs. RECs can be counted toward agencies' renewable energy goals.

The annual solicitation allows agencies to sign a statement of interest, a non-binding document that states the kinds of renewable energy projects the agency would like to support.

Western Area Power Administration consolidates agencies' statements of interest into one solicitation, executes interagency agreements and the contracts with the REC suppliers. These statements can vary, depending on the locale and mission of the agency.

"If you're a federal agency in the Upper Great Plains region, you may be more apt to support local wind power than you would to support a solar project in Arizona," said Randy Manion, Western's renewable resource manager, in an interview with The Federal Drive with Tom Temin.

A 2009 executive order from President Barack Obama directed agencies to establish a strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Agencies must also carry out energy consumption goals in the 2005 Energy Policy Act, which set a goal that agencies must get 5 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2012 and 7-1/2 percent from renewable sources by 2013.

Tracy Logan, program analyst with the Federal Energy Management Program at Energy, said the solicitation allows savings that agencies could not achieve through individual solicitations.

"Having several agencies come together to aggregate their demand can help reduce the cost of the RECs," Logan said.

Last year, the solicitation included six federal agencies and six REC suppliers due to the specifications of the different sites, Manion said.

Since 2002, Western has administered RECs that have helped 35 federal agency sites and procured 3,912 gigawatt hours of renewable energy credits, he said.

In other words, "One way to look at that would be 133 utility-scale wind turbines generating energy for 10 continues years," Manion said. "That would be the approximate amount of renewable energy certificates produced." It's also equal to taking 528,000 passenger vehicles off the road, Manion added.

Click here for more information on the REC solicitation.

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