REGULATORY: Government Relations: Renewable Energy Initiatives in the Department of Defense by Thomas J. Spulak and Allison F. Kassir

by King & Spalding

The U.S. Department of Defense is the largest energy consumer in the country, accounting for one percent of total consumption. In fact, the Department’s energy bill last year was $19 billion, up $3 billion from the year before, according to Dr. Dorothy Robyn, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Installations and Environment. Three quarters of this total is used for operational purposes -- defined as “energy required for training, moving, and sustaining military forces and weapons platforms for military operations” -- and one quarter is used for installations.

Ensuring energy security for operations and installations is a top priority for the Department. The expense of fuel factors into energy security, with the cost of moving fuel to remote operational bases running as high as $400 per gallon. A one dollar increase in the price of a barrel of oil results in a $31 million increase in costs to the Navy.

In response to these concerns, the Department of Defense has set an ambitious goal of obtaining 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025. Further, the Army, Navy, and Air Force have committed to deploying a one thousand megawatts (MW) each of renewable energy on their installations by 2025. Those services also have set even more ambitious individual goals. For example, the Navy aims to ensure half of its energy comes from renewable sources by 2020, and the Air Force is targeting to acquire half of its domestic aviation fuel from domestic, non-petroleum, synthetic sources by 2016.

Each of the service branches and the Department as a whole are pursuing various renewable energy initiatives. During a June “Renewable Energy Industry Day,” sponsored by the Army and the Air Force, the Army announced that it plans to proceed with four utility-scale renewable power projects: a 20 MW solar project at Fort Irwin, California; a 20 MW solar project at Fort Bliss, Texas; a 15 MW solar project at Fort Detrick, Maryland; and a 50 MW biofuel project at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. Army and Air Force officials emphasized that while much of the renewable power would not be acquired through federal grants but rather purchased through third party financing (with developers owning and operating the facilities), the military could, in many cases, provide the land for projects as well as the long-term demand. The Navy and the Air Force have been testing 50-50 blends of biofuels and traditional fuel sources in aircraft and ships. Last year, the Navy joined the Departments of Agriculture and Energy to focus $510 million to assist in bringing products from biofuel refineries to market.

Additionally, the Department of Defense is partnering with the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E), to fund $30 million of research into improving the capability of energy storage devices, which along with microgrid technology, are necessary to ensure that intermittent renewable technologies can be utilized to provide a base level of secure energy.

The Department’s initiatives are not without their critics in Congress, some of whom are concerned that the military is prioritizing renewable energy fuel markets over core missions, particularly as the Department is facing substantial budget reductions amounting to almost half a trillion dollars over the next ten years. At a House Armed Services Committee hearing this year, Congressman Randy Forbes (R-VA) told Navy Secretary Ray Mabus: “You’re not the secretary of energy; you’re the secretary of the Navy.” On the other hand, several Democratic Senators wrote to Secretary Mabus in April supporting his efforts to develop alternative energy technologies, noting that “[i]t is not only within your purview to research and develop technologies that could eventually take more fuel trucks off the road and increase the capabilities of our fighting forces -- it is your obligation to do so.”

Nonetheless, both the House and the Senate Armed Services Committees included amendments in their versions of this year’s defense authorization bill to prohibit the Department from purchasing biofuels that are more expensive than petroleum.

Congressional scrutiny will surely continue, as will Department efforts to reduce fuel costs and ensure energy security.

  Thomas J. Spulak
  Washington, D.C.
  +1 202 661 7948

  View Profile »
  Allison F. Kassir
Washington, D.C.
+1 202 626 5600

View Profile »


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© King & Spalding | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

King & Spalding

King & Spalding on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.