Procurement

Senate committee wants answers on energy saving delays

NASA data center

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is worried about delays to energy savings performance contracts (ESPCs) some federal agencies are trying to use to optimize their data centers.

Several months ago, the Office of Management and Budget placed a hold on the first such effort between Lockheed Martin and the Department of Energy right before the $70 million contract – paid for out of savings the optimization would achieve within six years – was tasked, without explanation or a timeline, according to multiple DOE and industry officials.

The hold has had a chilling effect on efforts to take an approach that was once known strictly for improving energy efficiency at major facilities and apply it to data center consolidation. And it caused Wyden to write the White House looking for answers, stressing that such data center projects offered a "particularly high levels of energy savings, as well as improved operations and maintenance output through more efficient equipment."

In the letter, Wyden urged OMB to approve "these and future projects in a timely manner in order to ensure that momentum continues toward achieving the $2 billion ESPC investment goal."

OMB's response, dated June 19, did not provide Wyden with the thorough answers he was looking for.

"Sen. Wyden continues to be concerned about the delay in approving these contracts, which will save the government money, and shrink our carbon footprint," said Senate Energy and Natural Resources spokesman Keith Chu. "Sen. Wyden and staff are following up with OMB and the Energy Department to ensure the government is taking full advantage of this money-saving tool."

OMB's response did not contain the phrase "data center," nor did it address the hold it placed on the ESPC deal between Lockheed Martin and DOE.

Instead, the letter, signed by officials from OMB and the Council on Environmental Quality, stated that the administration's goal of $2 billion in performance-based contracts for energy savings projects is achievable.

Multiple requests to OMB and the CEQ requesting further comment from FCW were not returned.

About the Author

Frank Konkel is a former staff writer for FCW.

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