White House directs U.S. agencies to double renewable energy use by 2020

by Reuters
Thursday, 5 December 2013 18:39 GMT

A Massachusetts Water Resources Authority wind turbine turns in front of a 1951 megawatt fossil fuel power plant in Charlestown, Massachusetts, on September 18, 2013. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

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USA-ENERGY/RENEWABLES:White House directs U.S. agencies to double renewable energy use by 2020

WASHINGTON, Dec 5 (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday ordered federal agencies to get at least 20 percent of their energy supply from renewable sources by 2020, double the current rate, as the White House rolled out the latest phase of its climate change action plan.

Obama signed a memorandum setting the 20 percent target as an extension of an executive order he issued in 2009 that called on the federal government to be a leader in clean energy and energy efficiency.

The administration's Climate Action Plan is a multi-agency approach to regulate and reduce heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions with measures that do not require congressional approval.

While the plan's centerpiece so far has been a set of rules from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set emissions standards for the country's fleet of fossil fuel power plants, Thursday's announcement places the responsibility on internal emissions reductions.

"As part of this effort, agencies will identify formerly contaminated lands, landfills, and mine sites to target for renewable energy projects, providing valuable opportunities to return those lands to productive use," according to a White House fact sheet.

The memo also directs federal agencies to use an industry-developed tool called the Green Button to manage their energy consumption and reduce electricity usage.

The White House said the government has already slashed its own greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent below 2008 levels - roughly the equivalent of taking 1.5 million cars off the road.

Agencies have also sourced more than 7 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, in fiscal year 2013.

Also on Thursday, federal agencies unveiled their annual sustainability plans.

For example, the Department of Agriculture announced it will provide rural electric cooperatives up to $250 million to lend to business and residential customers for energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy systems. (Reporting by Valerie Volcovici, editing by Ros Krasny and Diane Craft)

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