The Department of Defense ("DoD") is serious about renewable energy and hosting solar photovoltaic projects.
During President Obama's recent State of the Union address, he said, "I'm proud to announce that the Department of Defense, the world's largest consumer of energy, will make one of the largest commitments to clean energy in history – with the Navy purchasing enough capacity to power a quarter of a million homes a year." The President's statement is consistent with recent DoD policy and project announcements related to the use of renewable energy and reports related thereto:
In January 2012, the DoD issued a report titled "Solar Energy Development on DoD Installations in the Mojave & Colorado Deserts," which found that more than 7,000 megawatts (MWAC) of solar energy development is technically feasible and financially viable at several DoD installations in the Mojave and Colorado Deserts of California. The complete report is more than 500 pages, and provides detail on the full range of issues for any solar project development, as well as the special considerations for projects located on active military bases. The January 2012 DoD report acknowledges that private companies will develop these projects since that will avoid the need for the DoD to make any capital investments, and only private developers can take advantage of tax incentives.
On February 2, 2012, Siemens Government Technologies, Inc. announced that the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center has awarded a $16.8 million task order to implement energy-conserving upgrades, including a 4.465 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) power generating system—the largest to date for the U.S. Army—at the White Sands Missile Range, N.M.
In August 2011, the United States Army Secretary John McHugh announced the creation of a new entity to manage the development of large-scale renewable energy projects. The Energy Initiatives Office Task Force will help the service meet its goal of using 25 percent renewable energy by 2025—a target that will require at least $7.1 billion in investments over the next 10 years. The task force will be responsible for finding private sector investors. "We have to attract private investors to utilize Army land to build cost-effective, large-scale renewable projects," said Jonathan Powers, special adviser on energy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army.
The directive for the DoD's push toward clean energy comes from the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT), which requires federal agencies to purchase 7.5 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2013; Presidential Executive Order 13423, which requires that half of this renewable energy comes from new sources; and the National Defense Authorization Act of 2007, which requires that 25 percent of DoD's total electricity comes from renewable sources by 2025.
The recently issued DoD interim rule expands existing Buy American requirements and allows for certain exceptions to those requirements under the Trade Agreements Act.
On December 20, 2011, the DoD issued an interim rule1 to implement a Buy American requirement contained in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011. The interim rule expands the Buy American coverage since the prior rule only applied if the DoD would have title to the solar facility. The DoD will consider public comments on the interim rule until February 21, 2012.
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