United States

United States

Federal government willing but unable to buy wind

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The US Department of Energy's Dan Reicher promised that the federal government would buy 1000 MW of wind by 2010. But if another arm of the federal government is any indication, the feds may have some institutional barriers to overcome before that goal is reached. Ray Clark, principle deputy assistant secretary at the Department of Defense, said his department probably will not buy renewable energy if it has to pay a significant premium. "The Department of Defense is not likely to buy large quantities of premium-priced power," Clark says. "It's not that we're unwilling to pay some premium price, but we must have some way to make this a business decision." According to Clark, the army is in transition and will soon have fewer, but larger installations, and in the process will privatise its utility systems. It is getting rid of its infrastructure and is not interested in owning wind turbines, Clark says. While the Army will consider buying wind generation, as it will at Fort Bliss in Texas, it is less likely to install turbines on the seven army bases the government has identified as ideal for wind. That will happen only if the turbines do not interfere with the army's primary mission. Clark did add a glimmer of hope, saying that Department of Defense installations offer some of the best opportunities in the federal government to develop wind and wind advocates need to keep pushing. "You need to understand that each service has its own culture and you will need to work with each one," Clark says. "Commanders at Army bases work by anecdotes. If one branch does something, others will follow."

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