Solar array in Arizona (photo: schwnj)
Obama: US President Barack Obama primes the renewable energy economy by leading by example. White House Environmental Executive Jon Powers tells host Steve Curwood about the President’s call for all federal agencies to get 20%of their energy from renewable sources by 2020.
CURWOOD: From the Jennifer and Ted Stanley Studios in Boston, this is Living on Earth. I’m Steve Curwood. The US government is a big customer and can boost businesses, and that’s what’s behind President Obama's executive order that requires at least 20 percent of the power federal departments use to come from renewable sources by the year 2020. John Powers of the White House says each agency can choose how it wants to comply.
POWERS: We've given the agencies the flexibility to achieve this goal in a variety of ways: to try to take advantage of onsite renewable energy projects, for instance, can they do rooftop solar, or VA hospitals, for instance, are doing really interesting work putting solar panels over their parking lots in arrays that provide shade both to the folks parking there and also provide power to the hospitals. Another option of the agencies is to contract with a local energy project that’s being developed. What this does, is that it helps that energy project get the support it needs to move forward and come online, and of course they can also go onto the market and buy green power or voluntary recs. But the intent of this is to help drive more renewable energy in this country, and we want to help agencies achieve that broader intent with their initiative.
CURWOOD: By the way, what’s the outstanding agency at this point?
POWERS: You know what? It’s hard to say. So a lot of the agencies have taken different approaches. You have EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency’s done incredible work with their renewable electricity. Then you have the Defense Department...the Defense Department is working on doing large scale, utility scale renewable energy projects on their land, some, for instance, on old landfills. But they’re committing to buy the power off of those projects.
CURWOOD: Now how significant will this be in terms of savings? I’m thinking of both emissions and costs.
POWERS: Well, so, this helps towards the broader emissions goal the President’s given the federal government where we have a goal of 28 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020 - and we’re on track to meet that goal. And when we meet that goal, we’ll have saved over $11 billion in energy costs.
CURWOOD: John Powers of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Now President Obama's order to increase the federal use of renewable energy brings us to another installment in our series Power Shift, about the transition in Massachusetts to low-carbon energy.
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