Greg Laughlin

    The creation of a government-sanctioned corporation that would oversee the much-needed modernization of federal government power plants was proposed in Congress.
     The idea for the so-called Forrestal Corporation, named for the first secretary of defense, evolved from in informal coalition of private sector energy executives and government officials.
     The federal government, the single largest energy consumer m the United States, spends more than $3 billion a year to service 500,000 buildings and facilities. The government is under strict mandates to improve the efficiency of its energy programs by 30 percent by the year 2005, in addition to facing various air quality restrictions.
     The Forrestal Corporation, however, could arrange for construction of a power plant project on behalf of a government agency. The corporation would solicit bids from private companies and the winning bidder would arrange its own financing and construct the plant. The corporation would oversee construction and operation.
     The coalition backing the plan sees a potential of nearly $10 billion of energy efficient investment. The Army alone has identified 15 potential cogeneration projects, with a $1.2 billion investment potential.
     The potential cogeneration investment throughout the federal government, if just 10 percent of current boiler sites are redeveloped as cogeneration, is estimated to be $20 billion.
     In addition to CNG, the coalition includes CMS Energy Corporation, Ogden Power Corporation, Trigen Energy Corporation, Prudential Securities and it has been endorsed by EPSA.
     They expect wide support for the plan because it is an idea that really saves money. The numbers still are being crunched, but my sense is that however it's scored it is going to have the potential for substantial cost savings.
     Former Rep., Greg Laughlin (R-Texas) sponsored the bill that would create the corporation. "We're very interested in what the Forrestal Corporation has to offer," Laughlin said. "When you start talking about-in the Defense Department alone-privatization of power generation facilities saving the government $1 billion a year, that's the kind of stuff that we're really interested in."
     John Howes, a Washington consultant who has been serving as administrator of the Forrestal Coalition, said the proposal fits in well with the tremendous changes taking place in the energy field. "There's so much dynamic activity taking place in the energy marketplace ... but the government is not keeping up with the private sector to take advantage of these changes."
     Because it can aid budget-cutting efforts, the Forrestal plan could be made part of the Department of Defense authorization bill or the budget reconciliation bill, Howes said. In any case, he anticipates that Congress will adopt the plan.