Biden admin. seeks ‘record-setting’ 100% clean electricity purchase

Biden admin. seeks ‘record-setting’ 100% clean electricity purchase
(Photo by American Public Power Association on Unsplash )

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) are seeking suppliers that could provide federal facilities in several mid-Atlantic and Midwest states with 100% carbon-free electricity (CFE) by 2030. The clean electricity procurement – slated for later this year – would be one of the federal government’s largest-ever clean electricity purchases.

The Request for Information (RFI) that GSA and DoD published requests input to inform the government’s procurement planning for this effort, specifically from contractors who could offer CFE for federal civilian and defense agencies located in the territory where PJM Interconnection is the regional transmission operator. Through this procurement, GSA and DoD anticipate seeking an average of about 2.7 million megawatt hours (MWh) annually of CFE and associated Energy Attribute Certificates. 

“The federal government is a steady customer prepared to make long-term investments. This procurement will mark a key milestone as we continue to incentivize more production and delivery of clean energy,” said GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan. “We’re using the government’s buying power to spur demand for clean, carbon pollution-free electricity, and we’re partnering with industry to drive toward the triple win of good jobs, lower costs for taxpayers, and a healthier planet for future generations.”

In February 2022, the Biden administration, through the General Services Administration and Department of Defense – itself the single largest consumer of energy in the U.S. – requested information regarding 24/7 CFE procurement. The move followed Biden’s executive order that directed the federal government to use 100% CFE on a net annual basis by 2030, including 50% on a 24/7 basis.

RMI defines 24/7 CFE as involving a buyer’s attempt to procure enough carbon-free energy to match a given facility’s load in every hour.

An RMI study titled “Clean Power by the Hour” determined that costs rose with the level of hourly load matching compared to costs for meeting annual procurement targets, near-term emissions reductions for hourly load matching depended on the regional grid mix, and hourly procurement strategies can create new markets for emerging technologies.

Procuring hour-by-hour clean energy within an energy buyer’s grid can lead to a greater drop in greenhouse gas emissions than 100% clean energy matching. At the same time, it can drive the deployment of clean firm power generation and long-duration energy storage, according to a study by Princeton University’s ZERO Lab.