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Letters to the Editor

Bureaucratic pit

October 4, 2010

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To the editor:

In your Sept. 27 article, “Westar proposal may energize loan program,” you note that only 58 applicants have been funded amounting to roughly 1 percent of the $38 million allocated to the Efficiency Kansas program. If my experience is typical, then the reason for these poor statistics is not lack of interest but rather a lack of “efficiency.”

In March of this year I attempted to apply to this program. I read the detailed instructions, was pre-approved for the loan, and paid $700 for the required energy audit using one of the contractors listed on the Efficiency Kansas website. After several phone calls and e-mails to Efficiency Kansas offices for help in filling out the required forms, the auditor submitted the 50-plus page report and plan, and then we waited.

After waiting five months, I finally gave up and implemented essentially all of the improvements recommended by the audit, totaling about $8,500 out of pocket. It’s possible that we either forgot to submit some form or filled something out improperly, but no one from the program office has ever contacted me or the auditor for additional information, and I obviously have no interest in or need for this program any more.

But if I couldn’t figure this byzantine, unintelligible process, how in heaven’s name could an elderly retiree who could really use this program have any hope? My guess is that more of the $38 million has gone toward paying the salaries of this bureaucratic tar pit than toward real energy improvements.

Comments

Ken Lassman 3 years, 6 months ago

More from the ACEEE website: they generate a state energy efficiency scorecard for each state, and in 2009, the last time it was calculated, KS scored an abysmal 7.5 out of a possible 50 points, to tie with Oklahoma for 39 place, down one place from 2008. I can hardly wait to see what happened in 2010, which should be out this month.

The score is based on compilation of the state's policies in the following areas: household appliance standards, transportation incentives, building codes, combined heat and power incentives, state government initiatives, and utility and public policies.

Missouri slumped in at an even worse 41st place, while Colorado was 16th. Get the details at: http://www.aceee.org/sites/default/files/publications/researchreports/E097.pdf

you have to register to download the report, but it's free.

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Ken Lassman 3 years, 6 months ago

OK, I poked around since nobody else seems to be interested in doing anything but complaining and not finding out a better way. ACEEE has an excellent website that looks at energy efficiency projects across the country, and they give annual awards and rate states by the effectiveness of their programs, policies, etc. I haven't delved much into their website, but it looks like the KEO and the utilities and legislators could find a lot of fantastic resources there if they were serious about energy efficiency improvements in our state.

For example, the state of Alaska started up a program in 2008 to provide energy rebates to folks who take measures in their homes to save energy. On the face of it, it doesn't look all that different from the one that Kansas has offered: you get an energy audit, which you get rebates for, followed by recommendations and then make energy efficiency improvements that you must implement within 18 months of the audit, and receive up to $10,000 in rebates.

Alaska allocated $160 million, and unlike KS, they actually set up a user-friendly program, resulting in 70% of the folks who got the audit done participating in getting rebates, which translated to 22,000 folks getting those rebates!

This is just one example of some of the states who have put their act together and are leaving us Kansans in the dust. We need to expect more and demand that our state implement well performing programs just like can be found in many other states.

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Centerville 3 years, 6 months ago

This program, built on printed Zippy money, isn't being used because the KCC purposefully made it too difficult to access. If someone wants to modify his/her home, it's easier and far more sensible to get a home improvement loan from the bank.

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Liberty_One 3 years, 6 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (anonymous) says…

"Does it work as well as it should? Clearly not. But let's find out why, and fix it. Declaring that governments always fail at everything will not get us there."

The difference between you and me is that I realize the program is working exactly as it was intended to. Governments don't fail, it's just that some people don't understand that governments are not the same as society but separate organizations of people with an agenda that is opposed to that of the general public.

When it comes to the task of increasing the budget, increasing government power, securing that power, increasing the number of people working for the government, increasing the number of people dependent on government, etc., this program is a success.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 6 months ago

"And see what happens when health care becomes completely government-run."

Well, of course, the only possible explanation is that government can't do anything, so let's not look into it any further. And if this program ever does get off the ground (doing things the private sector has thus far not chosen to undertake) we'll just pretend it didn't happen.

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devobrun 3 years, 6 months ago

And see what happens when health care becomes completely government-run.

Let's form a committee to hold hearings to pass legislation to discuss the funding of energy stabilization and conservation societies. These societies will conduct audits that will yield data that can be used by committees to form self-help groups and neighborhood groups where we can meet to discuss the forming of action items for the committees to investigate the possibility of forming groups that will meet to discuss legislation that will fund a program to form a committee that will.......

There are 5 people left in Lawrence who know which end of a hammer to hold. They all came here from Mexico. Because they don't speak English, they don't yet know that they can join a committee to pass the work off to.........

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