April 30, 2012
The Department of Energy's Renewable Energy Efforts
In an effort to promote generation of renewable energy, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct) requires that by Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 at least 7.5 percent of a Federal agency's annual electricity consumption be from renewable sources. Because of the importance of the Department of Energy's (Department) commitment to sustainability, we initiated this audit to determine whether the Department was effectively meeting the EPAct renewable energy requirements. In FY 2010, the Department acquired approximately 461,000 megawatt hours from renewable sources, representing over 9 percent of its annual electricity consumption of 4.8 million megawatt hours. Although the Department's progress exceeded EPAct requirements, our audit identified opportunities for improvement. Specifically, we found that despite EPAct's preference for producing renewable energy on Federal lands, the Department relied almost exclusively on purchases of renewable energy. The lack of large-scale on-site projects occurred, at least in part, because of the challenges the Department faced in financing renewable energy projects. Additionally, we found that the sites may not have always purchased renewable energy in the most cost-effective manner. The Department's guidance on renewable energy purchases did not provide sites with advice regarding how to evaluate the different purchase options to ensure they procured the best value.