Federal Off-Site Renewable Energy Purchases and Renewable Energy Certificates

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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. Find REC guidance in the Council on Environmental Quality’s Federal Renewable Energy Certificate Guide.

Additional REC information is available on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Green Power Partnership website, including REC price information.

The following organizations execute 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. Additional information is available on the EPA Green Power Partnership website and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory website.

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.

Renewable energy tariffs: Renewable energy tariffs are emerging new offerings from some utilities that could provide cost savings to federal agencies and help them 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. 15852), agencies purchasing electricity 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 the renewable goals.

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.