2010 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: Thu, 4 Feb 2010 09:29:49 -0800 (PST)
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] ENERGY: GAO calls for renewable energy policy at DOD
Defense Infrastructure: DOD Needs to Take Actions to Address Challenges in Meeting Federal Renewable Energy Goals
December 18, 2009

To view the original summary and GAO's recommendations, or to download the entire report, go to


The Department of Defense (DOD) consumes about 60 percent of all energy used at federal government facilities. To encourage an increased use of energy from renewable sources, such as solar and wind power, (1) the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (the 2005 Act) directs DOD to consume at least 3 percent of its total electricity from renewable resources starting in fiscal year 2007; (2) Executive Order 13423 (the 2007 Executive Order) directs that an amount equal to half of the statutorily required renewable energy be generated by sources placed into service in 1999 or later; and (3) the 2007 Defense Authorization Act directed that at least 25 percent of electricity consumed by DOD come from renewable sources in fiscal year 2025. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) was asked to examine (1) DOD's progress toward these three key goals for consuming renewable energy in fiscal years 2007 and 2008, (2) challenges to DOD meeting those goals, and (3) DOD's plans to meet the goals. GAO reviewed relevant laws and DOD and Department of Energy (DOE) policy, plans, and data; interviewed agency officials; and visited DOD facilities.

DOD has three key goals for its installations' consumption of renewable energy, contained in the 2005 Act, the 2007 Executive Order, and the fiscal year 2007 National Defense Authorization Act. DOD met the goals in the 2005 Act and 2007 Executive Order in fiscal year 2007. However, in fiscal year 2008, DOD fell just short of the 2005 Act goal. Moreover, in fiscal years 2007 and 2008, DOD overstated its progress toward the goal in the 2007 Defense Authorization Act, counting nonelectric renewable energy. In these 2 fiscal years, the 2007 Defense Authorization Act goal allowed only electric renewable energy to be counted. According to amendments in the fiscal year 2010 Defense Authorization Act--which became law in October 2009--DOD is now able to count nonelectric renewable energy toward this goal. In fiscal years 2007 and 2008, when calculating progress toward the 2007 Defense Authorization Act goal, DOD included renewable electricity produced on DOD land, but not consumed by DOD. According to DOD, it has "facilitated production," but has not "directly consumed" this electricity. It is unclear whether such renewable energy should be included in the Office of the Secretary of Defense's (OSD) calculations of progress toward this goal. Moreover, OSD has not published guidance clarifying key terms in the language of the goal. With such guidance specifying how the services are to implement this goal, DOD will have greater assurance that it can accurately assess progress toward the goal and accurately report on this progress to Congress. DOD faces three key challenges in meeting the renewable energy goals. First, renewable energy projects may sometimes be incompatible with installations' need to use land for primary mission objectives. For example, wind turbines may conflict with aircraft operations during training. Second, renewable energy is often more expensive than nonrenewable energy. Therefore, using renewable energy can be at odds with DOD and DOE guidance that calls for DOD to invest in energy projects when cost-effective. In response, DOD plans to obtain additional funds by joining with private industry, such as local electric utilities, to develop renewable energy projects. Third, however, the use of those private sector approaches can be constrained by several factors. For example, energy produced by the projects may not count toward the renewable energy goals. By addressing these challenges, DOD would strengthen its ability to fully realize the potential of its renewable energy resources, improving its chances of meeting the goals in the most cost-effective way. OSD has not developed a long-term, DOD-wide plan to help ensure that DOD meets the renewable energy goals. Such a plan that identifies and addresses key challenges, has strategies for coordinating the services' renewable energy activities, sets realistic performance measures for achieving the goals, and aligns DOD resources will better enable DOD to meet the renewable energy goals.



Lenny Siegel
Executive Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
a project of the Pacific Studies Center
278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/961-8918

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