Today, GSA produces only a small amount of its own energy, predominantly through solar panels. However, we are saving significant money and creating a more energy efficient government by purchasing sustainable energy. Before deregulation, almost all the contracts for electricity were made with utilities at the rates set by state public utilities commissions. Since deregulation, GSA buys electricity for the federal government competitively, often using reverse auctions. Since we started using this process, competition for energy has increased, and so has efficiency.
GSA often bundles renewable energy purchases with basic electricity. This helps multiple agencies meet their renewable energy needs. GSA itself is one of the agencies using the highest percentage of renewable energy. GSA purchases approximately 4.3 billion kilowatt hours of electricity a year, with approximately 516 kilowatt hours of renewable electricity.
GSA purchases some energy through power purchase agreements--where a third party owns the means of electricity production, such as windmills or solar panels--and the government buys the output for a fixed period. We also purchase renewable energy through renewable energy certificates. These certificates are created when a renewable energy facility generates electricity. They are sold separately from the power and create cost savings by spurring renewable power generation in favorable resource locations, regardless of the location of the ultimate power user.
For more information about GSA’s renewable energy policies, please click here.