Bill would mandate 100% renewables for federal buildings

Source: By Jeremy Dillon, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Democratic legislation would require the federal government to get 100% of its energy from renewable power sources by 2050.

The bill, H.R. 5142, from Rep. Julia Brownley (D-Calif.), would hold the federal government — the No. 1 consumer of power in the country — to a standard many activists are pushing for the general public to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

“The climate crisis is upon us, and it is high-time the federal government act boldly,” Brownley said in a statement. “We must leverage the government’s resources to aid in our transition to a renewable energy economy and become a model for the private sector.”

The federal government’s energy demand covers more than 350,000 buildings and structures, and 600,000 road vehicles, according to the Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Management Program.

To meet the 2050 goal, Brownley’s bill would require the federal government to increase the amount of renewable energy it consumes to 35% of its total electricity by 2030, 75% by 2040 and 100% by 2050.

Those numbers, Brownley argued, would also help the renewable industry as it looks for more electric market penetration.

“Because the federal government is the single largest purchaser of electricity in the country, this bill will also provide an important boost to the burgeoning renewable energy industry, a critical way that we can accelerate the movement of our country towards a 100% clean energy future,” she argued.

Earlier this year, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and ranking member Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) readied a bill, S. 1857, to set energy reduction goals in federal buildings at 2.5% per year over the next decade relative to 2018 usage, thereby promulgating a 25% reduction by 2030.

That measure would also formally authorize, for the first time, DOE’s Federal Energy Management Program with $360 million in funding over the next decade.

That program has goals to help federal agencies reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by fiscal 2025 compared with fiscal 2008 and ensure that at least 30% of federal electricity consumption is generated from renewable sources by 2025, according to DOE’s website.