Democrat Sens. Udall, Murray and Warner may now be incentivized to stop the Obama war against fossil fuels.
Environment and Energy Daily reports,
A pair of provisions that could spell big business for the American solar and biofuel markets were tucked into the defense policy bill that cleared the Senate last night.
An amendment approved at the eleventh hour requires that all military contracts for solar energy use American-made photovoltaic panels.
Concern that China may be unfairly subsidizing its solar manufacturing industry prompted Congress last year to include a provision in the annual bill that applied the Buy American Act to military-purchased solar panels (E&E Daily, April 14). But the military is increasingly looking to alternative financing mechanisms to fund its renewable energy purchases, many of which leave ownership of the panels with a third party.
The amendment, penned by Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), would require that all photovoltaic devices installed as part of a military contract comply with the Buy American Act.
A hot topic within the advanced biofuels world also took a small step forward in the bill. The Navy and Air Force are currently testing and certifying their fleets on biofuels, but current production is not of the scale that the services need to meet their near-term goals.
Biofuel producers contend that one key way the military could help them attract the capital they need in order to build commercial-scale refineries is by entering into long-term purchasing contracts. The military is currently limited to five-year contracts for fuel.
A provision from Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) requires a study of the authorities available to the department for multi-year contracts for advanced biofuels. Unlike other amendments that were unsuccessfully proposed in the House, Murray’s amendment applies only to advanced biofuels and not to other alternative fuels such as those derived from coal (E&E Daily, May 12).
Other provisions in the Senate version of the bill aim to boost the military’s internal renewable energy and energy efficiency efforts.
With the military making slow progress on its mandate to meet 25 percent of its base energy needs with renewable energy by the year 2025, the bill sets interim goals, beginning with 12 percent in 2015. A similar provision was included in the House version of the bill that passed this spring.
Meanwhile, the Defense Department reports it has made progress in adding meters to its some 300,000 buildings. But lawmakers are concerned that the data from those meters is not always being collected and tracked in a consistent way. An amendment successfully attached to the policy bill by Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) requires that this information be captured and used to create a consumption baseline to inform energy efficiency efforts.
Versions of that provision, as well as one requiring a core curriculum for defense energy managers, were also included in the House version of the bill.