Google, Adobe, Trane Technologies, and Hewlett-Packard joined with a number of environmental groups to send a letter to President Joe Biden, urging his administration to adopt “higher-impact carbon-free federal electricity procurement,” as opposed to traditional clean energy procurement.
The letter points out that such a move aligns with the president’s goal — stated in the Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad — of using the Federal government procurement system to drive towards 100% clean energy. Biden’s January 27 executive order included a directive to the heads of government agencies to identify opportunities for Federal funding to spur commercialization and deployment of clean energy technologies and infrastructure. The Federal government spends $500 billion every year on electricity procurement, but only 8% to 9% of the federal government’s energy use was counted as renewable sources, the Clean Air Task Force says.
Higher-impact, carbon-free electricity procurement focuses on purchasing new clean resources to “secure a round-the-clock clean energy supply to decarbonize electricity consumption” on each regional grid where consumption occurs, the letter states. By contrast, traditional clean electricity procurement approaches have relied on purchasing electricity from renewable energy projects located far from consumption, and whose generation does not coincide with the time at which electricity is consumed.
Higher-impact procurement can reduce reliance on fossil generation when adequate variable renewable generation is not available; it can also spur commercialization and deployment of carbon-free energy technologies that are needed to fully decarbonize the electricity system, including energy storage, the letter explains. Additionally, by embracing round-the-clock clean electricity, the federal government can send a powerful market signal that will drive deployment of new clean energy resources, serve as a catalyst for investment, and unlock capital, the signatories argue.
The letter went so far as to outline a strategy to this higher-impact procurement. According to the letter, Biden’s administration should:
—Direct agencies to set targets for time- and location-based procurement of new clean electricity resources so that federal facilities achieve 100% carbon-free electricity consumption on an hourly basis as soon as possible;
—Establish a process for the adoption of interim targets and guidance on implementation methodologies;
—Permit phased-in implementation with gradually increasing stringency;
—Use accounting and tracking mechanisms that ensure the economic and public health benefits associated with clean energy deployment are realized equitably by all regions and communities across the country;
—Acknowledge and, where possible mitigate, risk and cost of procurement from new technology deployments; and
—Hold federal agencies accountable for meeting the targets and reporting progress on an annual basis.
“We believe the US government, the largest electricity buyer in the world, has power to move markets,” said Lindsey Baxter Griffith, federal policy director with the Clean Air Task Force (via MarketWatch).
The complete list of entities that signed the letter includes: Adobe Inc., AES Corporation, Bipartisan Policy Center, Breakthrough Institute, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, Clean Air Task Force, Digital Climate Alliance, Environmental Defense Fund, Evergreen Action, FirstLight Power, Good Energy Collective, Google, Hannon Armstrong, Hewlett Packard Enterprises, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, Intersect Power, National Hydropower Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Innovation Alliance, Smart Electric Power Alliance, The Nature Conservancy, Third Way, Trane Technologies, and US Energy Storage Association.