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Schiff, Giffords Introduce Bill to Allow one of America's Largest Consumers of Energy to Dramatically Expand its Purchase of Clean Affordable Wind and Solar Energy

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Schiff, Giffords Introduce Bill to Allow One of America's Largest Consumers of Energy to Dramatically Expand its Purchase of Clean Affordable Wind and Solar Energy

Washington, DC - Demonstrating the importance of investing in clean alternative energy, Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA)and Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) introduced a bill (H.R. 175) on the first day of the 111th Congress to strongly expand the federal government's ability to purchase solar, wind, and other alternative energies for government buildings. The measure, introduced yesterday, would repeal a law that limits government energy contracts to 10 year periods, an antiquated provision which hinders the government's ability to purchase green energy.

"The federal government must practice what it preaches," said Schiff. "In Washington we have often called on Americans to use more clean alternative energy solutions. This bill will send a message that the federal government, one of the largest consumers of energy, can do its part too. It is a common sense measure that will help save taxpayer money, protect our environment, create green jobs, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil."

"Through its procurement process, the federal government has tremendous power to influence the demand for new technologies," said Giffords, a member of the House Science and Technology Committee. "By harnessing the power of federal purchasing on behalf of renewable energy, we can provide a significant boost to this emerging industry and reduce the government's environmental impact at the same time."

The federal government is one of the biggest energy consumers in America, spending more than $10 billion annually. The General Services Administration (GSA) manages most non-military federal properties and has begun the process of greening federal buildings, in part by placing solar panels on some buildings.

However, installing local solar or wind energy requires a large investment upfront. Even if an installation would pay for itself over its lifetime, the initial investment is often too costly for an annual budget.

The private sector has already found a solution to this problem: Many new solar projects are installed, owned and operated by a solar services provider, which then sells the power at a constant rate to the customer. With this model, the customer gets clean, local, uninterruptible power and protection against increasing energy bills, without a large initial outlay. However, the GSA has difficulty signing such contracts because of a statutory requirement that any energy contracts it signs can last at most 10 years -- too short a period for service providers to recoup their investment.

H.R. 175 would extend the length of GSA renewable energy contracts to up to 30 years. This simple fix would allow one of the largest consumers of energy in America to invest in clean energy, bringing green-collar jobs to hundreds of communities across the country.

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