Obama executive order includes provision on SMRs, CHP

President Obama’s recently-announced executive order to have federal entities cut their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 40% over the next decade includes a provision that favors power from small modular reactors (SMRs) as an acceptable alternative energy source.

Obama announced March 19 that he was issuing an order affecting executive departments and agencies to cut GHG emissions and set an example for combatting climate change.

“To improve environmental performance and Federal sustainability, priority should first be placed on reducing energy use and cost, then on finding renewable or alternative energy solutions,” according to the order.

The document lists nuclear power from SMRs and use of thermal combined heat and power (CHP) among the acceptable forms of alternative energy solutions.

“Utilizing energy from a new project that includes the active capture and storage of carbon dioxide emissions associated with energy generation,” according to the executive order.

Among other things, the order sets up something akin to a renewable energy standard for federal agencies. The order calls for using a minimum of “clean energy” accounted for by renewable electric energy and alternative energy. The minimum standard would be at least 10% in FY 2016 and 2017 and growing to not less than 30% by FY 2025.

Meeting the goals could include installing agency-funded renewable energy on site at federal facilities and retaining corresponding renewable energy certificates (RECs) or obtaining equal value replacement RECs. It could also include contracting for the purchase of clean energy or RECs.

The executive order stipulates that the head of each agency shall submit a plan to the Council on Environmental Quality and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to outline plans on cutting greenhouse emissions by the end of 2025. The reductions will be compared to a FY 2008 baseline.

“Where appropriate, the target shall exclude direct emissions from excluded vehicles and equipment and from electric power produced and sold commercially to other parties as the primary business of the agency,” the order states.

Among other things, the order seeks to reduce agency building energy intensity measured in British thermal units (Btus) per gross square foot by 2.5% annually through the end of fiscal year 2025.

The executive order also includes provisions that would work to reduce emissions from federal government vehicle fleets.


About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.