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National Renewable Energy Laboratory

October 30, 2007 - 4:21pm


Remarks Prepared for Secretary Bodman

Thank you.  It is a pleasure to be with you once again in beautiful Colorado. It is only fitting that we are here at the Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory-our nation's premier laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research-to recognize leadership in applying new energy technology in very tangible ways - to power, heat, and reduce energy consumption at these facilities.  Today, we celebrate the accomplishments of our talented team with the announcement of three new facilities.

In January 2007, the President signed an Executive Order which called upon all federal agencies to reduce energy intensity, or consumption per square foot, by 30%. The order also called for increases in the percentage of new renewable sources in each agency's energy supply, and asked agencies to implement renewable energy generation projects on their property.

I decided that the Department of Energy should and would lead by example - that we should be the first in the federal government to meet or exceed the efficiency, renewable energy, water, transportation, and green building requirements outlined by the President.

To ensure we stay on track to that end, the Department developed the Transformational Energy Action Management, or TEAM Initiative.  In addition to reducing our energy intensity across all DOE sites by 30%, through our TEAM Initiative we intend to have all new DOE construction or major renovations achieve a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, Gold rating, as designated by the U.S. Green Building Council.  We further plan to meet or exceed the Energy Policy Act requirement of having 7.5% of DOE's electricity provided by renewable energy by 2013.

One of the most creative and valuable aspects of the TEAM Initiative is the application of private sector financing, primarily from energy service and utility companies.  Under these financing models, the upfront capital required for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects is paid for by future energy savings, and the private company assumes the performance risk.

Today, I'm pleased to announce three new facilities which showcase our efforts under the TEAM Initiative at this laboratory.

First, is the Mesa Top Photovoltaics Project. This pioneering agreement between DOE, the Western Area Power Administration, and SunEdison will result in a 750 kW photovoltaic array on the NREL Mesa Top, which is expected to start generating clean electricity next spring.  The agreement is pioneering not only because of the size of the PV installation-which will be one of the largest solar power systems in Colorado-but also pioneering for the way that private sector funding was leveraged to secure a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement for a federal facility.

SunEdison will own and operate the system, and benefit both from having a long-term customer in DOE, and from selling the Renewable Energy Credits generated by the project to the Colorado utility Xcel Energy.  Our Western Area Power Administration will use its power purchasing authority to buy electricity on behalf of DOE for a 20-year term at a price that is equal to what the DOE is currently paying for the laboratory's power.

This system has very real benefits to American taxpayers: it saves them the upfront capital investment of the solar project and locks in an electricity rate that, in real dollars, will remain flat over a 20-year term.

The Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit and Xcel Energy's Solar Rewards Program production incentives have been instrumental in attracting the private investment needed to make this project possible.  Pushing solar deeper into the marketplace is critical, and projects such as this one here at NREL support the President's Solar America Initiative, which sets the goal of making solar power cost competitive, without subsidies, across America, by 2015.

In addition to obtaining more of its electricity from renewable energy sources, NREL is seeking to address its heating energy requirements by using abundant, renewable biomass.  Using wood waste and forest thinnings from Colorado's Front Range, the lab's new Renewable Fuel Heating Plant will heat research buildings on the Laboratory's South Table Mountain campus and will operate in conjunction with an existing natural gas-fueled boiler system.  Once built out to full capacity, the system could cut natural gas usage by up to 75%. 

Scheduled to be completed in May of 2008, the plant is being installed using private sector funding at no upfront cost to the government.  Ameresco Energy Services Co. will finance the construction of the plant and be repaid with the proceeds from NREL's natural gas utility cost savings.

While we must increase our investment in alternative fuels and renewable energy sources, we must also continue to promote enhanced energy efficiency wherever we can - in our homes, our vehicles, and our offices.  Because the truth is, the largest source of immediately-available "new" energy is the energy that we waste everyday.  And that's why today I'm proud to break ground on a new, highly efficient research support facility, an approximately 210,000 square foot building for employees currently working "off" the main campus in leased space.

The research support facility will integrate high performance design and building practices while showcasing the latest renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies advances to achieve a LEED Platinum rating, which is above our TEAM Initiative goal of LEED Gold ratings for new DOE construction.

I would like to thank all those who worked on these projects, including employees at the DOE Headquarters, the Golden Field Office, NREL, and WAPA, and our industry partners at SunEdison, Xcel Energy, and Ameresco Energy Services.  These remarkable new facilities at NREL demonstrate that by working together we can help to secure America's energy future by reducing energy waste and by using cleaner, more diverse energy sources. 

Thank you.

Location: Golden, Colorado

Media contact(s): Jonathan Shradar, (202) 586-4940