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Us Government In The Market For Solar Power

By: Matthew K. Norris, Contributing Writer to


According to the General Services Administration (GSA), often referred to as the Federal Government’s “landlord”, the Federal Government consumes more energy than any other single entity across the United States. Every year the U.S. Government uses 1.6 quadrillion BTUs of energy to power its buildings. By 2030 the U.S. Government could be looking at spending half a trillion dollars just to power those buildings.


As a result of this power consumption, the GSA has multiple mandates outlined in President Obama’s Executive Order 13423 to increase energy efficiency and self-sufficiency for all its buildings, including both the agency’s existing building stock and any future new construction. Prior to this Executive Order, the U.S. Government had been reducing energy consumption through similar mandates. The GSA states that total primary energy consumption in 2007 was 3.7% lower than in 2003. However, Executive Order 13423 will only accelerate these efforts to lower energy consumption in the future.


These mandates will greatly benefit commercial solar power providers as the U.S. Government leans heavily on solar power technologies to reduce overall energy consumption. And the GSA is becoming a reliable proving ground for energy-efficient technologies. With over 350 million square feet of building space in its portfolio there will be ample opportunity for solar power providers to help the GSA achieve its power reduction goals in the future. As part of the Recovery Act of 2009, GSA recently awarded over $4 billion dollars to renovate a substantial portion of their existing portfolio of over 8,700 buildings into higher performing green buildings.


To date the GSA has launched some 31 solar power projects that will generate over 12 megawatts of renewable solar power capacity. That is enough capacity to power 1,600 homes or the equivalent of removing 2,500 cars from the road. These efforts seem to be just the beginning for the GSA and other agencies of the U.S. Government. In the near future there appears to be tremendous federal contracting opportunities for solar power providers as the U.S. Government and GSA continue their quest to reduce overall energy consumption.


Matthew Knox Norris is currently a Finance and Project Manager with Spindrift Partners, Inc., focusing on the bidding, development and management of U.S. government-leased properties. Prior to this, he was a member of the Executive Finance Development Program at Thermo Fisher Scientific where he was responsible for developing strategies to improve customer profitability and operational performance for the Fisher Healthcare business unit. Mr. Norris has an MBA from The University of Texas at Austin and a B.A. in Economics from Claremont McKenna College.


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Green Options › Articles › Us Government In The Market For Solar Power