DOE issues first Cleanup to Clean Energy RFI

August 31, 2023, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions
An elk herd at the DOE’s Hanford Site in Washington state. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy has released the first request for information (RFI) related to the department’s Cleanup to Clean Energy initiative, which aims to repurpose certain DOE-owned lands, portions of which were previously used in the nation’s nuclear weapons program, into sites for clean energy generation.

This initial RFI is focused on the Hanford Site near Richland, Wash., and is intended to help the DOE identify organizations interested in leasing site land from the federal government to develop utility-scale carbon-free electricity (CFE) projects.

The basis: The DOE launched the Cleanup to Clean Energy initiative in July to help achieve President Biden’s climate goals and the directive in Executive Order 14057 for agencies to use their properties for the development of new clean electricity generation. That order, issued in December 2021, sets requirements for federal agencies to reduce their impact on the environment and to reduce the impact of climate change.

“As the leading federal agency on clean energy research, development, deployment, and demonstration, DOE has both a unique opportunity and a clear responsibility to lead by example and identify creative solutions to achieve the president’s mandate,” said Ike White, senior advisor for the DOE’s Office of Environmental Management.

The land: Approximately 19,000 acres of contiguous land at Hanford have been identified by the DOE that could potentially be used for industrial activities that include CFE generation and storage. The DOE may decide to lease part or all the available land, or it may award leases to one or multiple entities. Potential CFE projects include solar, wind, and nuclear.

What’s next: The DOE is planning a Cleanup to Clean Energy information day in Richland on September 22 for those interested in the program to ask questions and have an opportunity to see the land identified for potential CFE production. Registration and agenda are available here.

The DOE is interested in hearing from those who have the requisite expertise to design, permit, finance, construct, and operate utility-scale (e.g., 200 MW or larger) CFE generation plants. The agency is also looking for tribal and community perspectives on potential collaboration with industry partners towards advancement of CFE goals.

Next steps in identifying potential CFE project opportunities at Hanford will be announced by the DOE after it has reviewed the RFI submittals and has considered the feedback from the September 22 information day. The department said it is currently not seeking proposals through this RFI and will not accept unsolicited proposals.

The response: The Energy Communities Alliance, a membership organization of local governments adjacent to or impacted by DOE activities, welcomed the announcement of the RFI. “Hanford is the perfect site to start the initiative,” the ECA said, adding that it looks forward to the DOE releasing many more RFIs and requests for proposals related to CFE development.

The ECA also said it hopes to have key questions the organization has regarding the initiative answered by the DOE, including the following:

  • When will the land be available for development?
  • What is the process that the DOE will use to lease the land?
  • What is the term of the lease?
  • Have the regulatory reviews (CERCLA and NEPA) occurred at the site and how long will that take?
  • Who will be purchasing the power?
  • How is the DOE ensuring the local community and the department can both benefit from the project?

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