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Federal Off-Site Renewable Energy Purchases and Renewable Energy Certificates

If developing an on-site renewable energy project is impractical, federal agencies can purchase renewable energy from off-site renewable energy projects or purchase renewable energy certificates (RECs). Renewable energy purchases do not require project financing and can help an agency meet its renewable energy goals.

The following methods can be used to purchase renewable energy that is not generated on the agency’s federal site.

Renewable Energy Certificates 

RECs, also known as renewable energy credits, green certificates, green tags, or tradable renewable certificates, represent the environmental attributes of the power produced from renewable energy projects and are sold separately from commodity electricity. RECs are attractive for federal facilities located where renewable power is not readily available. The Green Power Network also offers information about RECs. Find REC guidance in the Council on Environmental Quality’s Federal Renewable Energy Certificate Guide.

The following organizations executive REC aggregations for federal agencies:

Off-Site Renewable Power Purchases

Competitive renewable power: In states with competitive electricity markets, federal agencies can purchase renewable power through competitive electricity procurements. The Green Power Network lists states that offer competitive renewable energy products

Regulated utility green pricing programs: Green pricing is an optional utility service that allows customers to support a higher level of utility company investment in renewable energy technologies. Participating customers pay a premium on their electricity bills to cover the incremental cost of the additional renewable energy. Consult the Green Power Network to find out if your utility has a green pricing program.

Renewable energy tariffs: Some local utilities offer renewable energy tariffs or rate schedules that agencies can use to meet their renewable energy goals 

Indian Land-Based Renewable Energy Purchases

Under section 203(c)(3) of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005, 42 U.S.C. 1582), electricity purchased from renewable projects situated on Indian land (as defined by the Energy Policy Act of 1992, 25 U.S.C. 3501, et seq.) receives double credit toward its renewable goals. This double credit is extended in the Executive Order 13693 Implementing Instructions. As a result, purchasing renewable power that is produced on Indian land bundled with renewable energy certificates (either original or replacement) will count double for agencies pursuing their goals toward the federal 30% renewable energy by 2025 goal.

Section 503 of EPAct 2005 (25 U.S.C. 3502) gives federal agencies the authority to give preference to tribal businesses when purchasing electricity, energy products, or energy by-products.