Most federal energy initiatives come from four agencies, GAO finds

Orlin Wagner/AP

The federal government implemented hundreds of renewable energy initiatives in 2010, but the majority came from four agencies, the Government Accountability Office reported.

According to the report dated Feb. 27 and released Monday, the government began 679 energy initiatives in fiscal 2010. The Agriculture, Defense, Energy and Interior departments combined were responsible for more than 60 percent of those initiatives. Each of the four departments implemented more than 80 initiatives, with Defense taking the lead at 116.

GAO filed the report at the request of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, collecting data from budget documents, strategic plans, websites, data requests and interviews with officials. In total, GAO reviewed 23 agencies and 130 subagencies.

The most commonly supported renewable energy resources were biofuel, solar and wind, and many initiatives supported multiple resources. The majority provided support to the private sector. GAO reported that more than 80 percent of initiatives fell into four categories of federal roles: supporting research and development, using renewable energy in vehicle fleets and facilities, providing incentives for commercialization and deployment, and improving regulation and ensuring compliance.

GAO made no recommendations in the report. The Commerce Department agreed with the overall findings as they related to the department. Most agencies did not comment.

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