President Biden Signs Executive Order Directing Government To Procure Carbon Free Electricity

December 10, 2021

by Paul Ciampoli
APPA News Director
December 10, 2021

President Joseph Biden on Dec. 8 signed an executive order (EO) that directs the federal government to procure 100 percent carbon free electricity on a net annual basis by 2030.

The EO directs the federal government to make only zero-emission vehicle purchases by 2035, including 100 percent zero-emission cars and other light-duty vehicles by 2027. The order also directs the government to achieve a net-zero emissions building portfolio by 2045 and net-zero emissions from federal procurement no later than 2050.

There are also interim goals, including cutting greenhouse gas emissions from federal buildings in half by 2032 and from all federal operations by 65 percent by 2030.

OMB Memorandum

Shalanda Young, acting director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), issued an accompanying memorandum to agency leaders with instructions on implementing the EO that includes a list of deadlines and annual targets to ensure government-wide progress around the administration’s clean energy initiatives. The memo included annual requirements for agencies to submit updated strategic plans to achieve a zero-emission fleet of federal vehicles.

Additionally, the memo spells out the requirement for agencies to designate a senior official as chief sustainability officer within 30 days of issuing the order. That official should have “the authority to ensure allocation of resources to effectively implement the [executive order],” and will take responsibility for, among other activities, coordinating with leaders including chief information and chief financial and acquisition officers to achieve the policy goals of the executive order.

OMB also called on agencies to use data analytics while conducting capital planning and building retrofits to achieve the EO’s goal of a net-zero emissions building portfolio by 2045, and said plans must ensure fossil-fuel consuming equipment is required to be replaced with carbon pollution-free energy technologies.

Federal Government To Work With Utilities, Others

The federal government will work with utilities, developers, technology firms, financiers and others to purchase electricity produced from resources that generate no carbon emissions, including solar and wind, for all its operations by 2030.

Half of the federal government’s 100 percent carbon free annual electricity demand will be procured on a 24/7 basis.

“With the scope and scale of this electricity demand, the federal government expects it will catalyze the development of at least 10 gigawatts of new American clean electricity production by 2030,” the White House said in a news release.

The EO also addresses environmental justice, noting that ensuring economic equity and environmental justice are key considerations in operations planning and decision making.

The Council on Environmental Quality will issue guidance, as necessary, to implement the order, and among the principal agencies targeted for action under the EO are the Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Justice, Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, and Department of Energy.

Concepts in the EO, such as what it means to “buy clean” and how carbon pollution-free electricity is defined, could be more formally adopted through proposed rules.

The EO is available here.

Biden Signs Executive Order Aimed At Addressing Climate Change

Shortly after Biden took office, he vowed to use the power of the federal purse to help achieve his administration’s climate change goals, which includes a net-zero economy by 2050.

In January, Biden signed an EO aimed at addressing climate change that consists of two major parts, with the first part addressing foreign policy and national security and the second part focused on a domestic “government-wide” approach.

The executive order establishes the roles and responsibilities of both the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, focused on international activities, and the National Climate Advisor, focused on domestic efforts.

It also creates a National Climate Task Force comprised of cabinet members and agency leaders. Those leaders will be tasked with, among other things, creating a federal clean electricity and vehicle procurement strategy that will use as available procurement authorities to achieve or facilitate “a carbon pollution-free electricity sector no later than 2035” and “clean and zero-emission vehicles for Federal, State, local, and Tribal government fleets.

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