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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Senate Passes Renewable Energy Mandate for Department of Defense

The Senate recently passed an ammendment, sponsored by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), that would greatly increase the Department of Defense's consumption of renewable energy, (REA) reports. The ammendment sets a statutory goal for the department of acquiring or generating 25 percent of its electric from renewable energy sources by the year 2025.

The Department of Defense currently acquires more than eight percent of its electricity from renewable sources, REA reports.

The Menendez measure, co-sponsored by Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), is an amendment to the Department of Defense Authorization bill and was passed Tuesday by the Senate with unanimous consent.

"As the federal government's largest consumer of energy, the Defense Department can be at the vanguard of renewable energy consumption," Menendez said. "The federal government must lead by example if more American businesses and families are to increase their usage of renewable energy."

As of press time, the status of the bill in the House was unclear. A complementary version would have to be passed in the House and then reconciled with the passed Senate version before this could be made law.

The Department of Defense is the federal government's most prolific user of electricity, using 55 percent of the government's total consumption. If the Menendez ammendment becomes law, the Defense Department renewable energy mandate would greatly impact the government's overall demand for renewable electricity. Renewable sources of energy include wind, solar, biomass, landfill gas, ocean, geothermal, municipal solid waste, and new hydroelectric generation capacity.

The Defense Department has made great strides toward increasing its usage of renewable energy sources. In 2005, DOD generated more than eight percent of its electricity from renewable sources, and issued an internal memo encouraging the different service branches to pursue a goal of generating -- or acquiring -- 25 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025. The Menendez amendment codifies this goal.

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