EPA Region 9 Purchases Renewable Power
At a Glance
100 percent renewable electricity.
Not available online.
- EPA Region 9
- EPA's Facilities Management and Services Division
- U.S. Department of
Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
- US General Services Administration
Environmental Information Sources:
Purchasing renewable energy at the lab will reduce the associated greenhouse gas emissions by more than 2.3 million pounds per year.
Listed at the end of the case study.
Putting into practice the ideals of its environmentally preferable purchasing program, EPA has committed to purchasing green power in its Region 9 laboratory. By taking advantage of the deregulation of the California electric industry, which allows consumers to choose their electricity provider, EPA is reducing the environmental impact of its electricity consumption. EPA's purchase of 100-percent green electricity for the Region 9 laboratory is a cooperative effort between Region 9, EPA's Office of Administration and Resource Management, EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).
Located in Richmond, California, the laboratory consumes approximately 1.8 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually, enough to power 181 typical households. Purchasing renewable energy at the lab will reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with fossil fuel-based power by more than 2.3 million pounds per year. This is equivalent to reducing by 2 million the number of automobile miles driven annually in California.
When drafting the solicitation, EPA adopted a definition of renewable energy similar to that in California's deregulation law. The solicitation allowed renewable energy from the following sources:
- Biomass, including landfill gas.
- Small hydroelectric (30 megawatts or less).
- Wind or ocean-based renewable resources.
GSA issued a request for proposals in February 1999 and received several offers for the 3-year contract by March 19. By May, EPA, NREL, and GSA decided to award the contract to the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), which can provide the laboratory with 100 percent renewable energy. SMUD initially supplied 40 percent of the electricity from landfill methane gas and 60 percent from a geothermal plant. Now, SMUD provides 100 percent of the laboratory's electricity from a landfill gas plant.
To ensure it is purchasing 100-percent renewable power, EPA required the electricity supplier to obtain "Green-e" certification within 45 days of contract award. Obtaining Green-e certification requires the generator to disclose the sources of its green electricity through an accounting process run by the Center for Resource Solutions , a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting renewable energy and economic and environmental sustainability.
The Green-e program is the nation's first voluntary certification and verification program for green electricity. The standards require at least 50 percent of the electricity be provided from renewable energy sources and that the remaining sources minimize adverse environmental affects. EPA's contract, however, requires its electricity to be generated from 100-percent renewable energy sources, so not all Green-e certified producers would have been eligible to supply EPA's electricity needs.
Initially, the green power purchase increased utility costs by 10 percent.
In a small facility such as the Region 9 laboratory, this is equal to
a yearly increase of $17,000. The facility has and continues to implement
energy-efficient measures to help offset this added cost. EPA hopes that
in the coming years green power will be more cost competitive throughout
the United States and it will be able to purchase green power for its
larger facilities such as the Research Triangle Park laboratory in North
For more information on EPA Region 9's purchase of green power, contact Phil Wirdzek in the Agency's Facilities Management and Services Division at 202 260-2094. For additional information on Green-e certification and the benefits of purchasing green power, visit the Green-e Web site