White House to seek $7B in green energy contracts for military

The White House announced Tuesday it is inviting contract proposals from green energy firms to boost the Army’s use of renewable energy.

The administration is making $7 billion available for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to spend on locally-generated biomass, geothermal, solar or wind energy for up to 30 years.

The move is part of a broader White House-led push to green the armed forces, over GOP opposition, which claims the efforts are a waste of taxpayer dollars.

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The Defense Department has set ambitious targets, aiming for renewable sources to account for 25 percent of its energy by 2025, with the Army working toward getting 1 gigawatt of power from green sources by that year.

Heather Zichal, the White House deputy assistant for energy and climate change, praised the DOD’s “extraordinary work” to promote renewable energy usage, in a media call on Tuesday.

She said alternative energy will reduce costs and enhance national security.

Republicans, however, have pressed the White House and military to abandon some alternative energy programs. They say the efforts cost too much with budget sequestration threatening to slash the defense budget by $492 billion over 10 years.

Zichal, though, said the president was fully behind the push and believed the military’s turn toward alternative energy was “operationally necessary, financially prudent and mission critical.” 

She also lauded the Navy’s July demonstration of its “Great Green Fleet” aircraft carrier strike group. That Pacific Rim exercise tested a fuel that combined a $26-per-gallon biofuel with conventional petroleum.

On Monday, the Army, along with the Interior Department, announced it would integrate green energy electricity sources such as wind and solar at military installations. Interior and the Army said those power generators would keep the lights on should the commercial electric grid fail.

The military-centric announcements are one part of a larger White House renewable energy blitz this week. 

Earlier Tuesday, the administration revealed it would fast-track seven solar and wind electricity projects on federal lands and also held a news conference celebrating the completion of the first wind farm on federal lands in Nevada.

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