Archive for Saturday, August 6, 2011

Energy program is smart investment

August 6, 2011


The Efficiency Kansas home energy audit program is exactly the sort of public-private partnership that we should be pursuing as we look for ways to improve the economy in our state. It is not a handout. It is not an expansion of big government. Efficiency Kansas is a smart way to create jobs and promote small business while improving the lives, homes and limited budgets of Kansans across the state.

With only a few public employees running the program, it has provided the opportunity for dozens of local energy auditors to grow their own small businesses. It has put contractors to work. It has provided the opportunity for hundreds of Kansans to make improvements on their homes that will help them reduce their monthly utility bills and increase the value and comfort of their homes. It reduces the need to build new coal plants to meet the demand for electricity. All the while, it reduces the pollution going into our local air and water and shrinks our carbon footprint.

This program has been ramping up over the past year. Auditors have been hiring and training new employees to meet the demand they expected to see from the $32 million of federal stimulus funds for a revolving loan program to help residents make energy efficiency improvements on their homes. This loan fund would provide Kansans a renewable source of funding. As the efficiency loans are repaid with savings on customers’ energy bills, they can be loaned out again to more households for decades to come.

But the recent move by the Brownback administration to gut the loan fund has saddled a rising industry with major uncertainty. It has also left Kansans who have already had audits and were ready to make major improvements to reduce their energy consumption sorely disappointed. Even more, it will erase economic opportunity, energy efficiency and monetary savings now and long into the future. This move will reduce jobs, weaken small businesses, increase household living costs and generate more pollution for our air, lakes and rivers.

The Brownback administration has diverted most of the money to the biofuel industry, a sector that has incredible levels of government support while providing little benefit for individuals or the environment. This is simply not the time to take money away from small businesses and homeowners in order to give even more subsidies to programs with questionable merit.

This decision is one that should be condemned by liberals and conservatives alike. Efficiency Kansas exemplifies the pragmatic ideals that all Kansans can agree upon and should be hailed as a flagship model of public-private partnership, not gutted at the very moment it is taking off.

— Trisha Shrum of Lawrence is a doctoral candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and has worked with Efficiency Kansas as part of her research on energy-efficiency economics.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 2 months ago


This program was poised to stimulate the creation of thousands of private sector jobs, doing work that will significantly reduce energy consumption.

But I guess Brownback just couldn't resist diverting that relatively small amount of money to his corporate cronies in the Rube Goldbergesque ethanol industry.

Getaroom 4 years, 2 months ago

Brownbackward only cares about fulfilling his Ideologies of Power Over and appeasing the Neo Cons & Tea Party movement for his future bid for the Presidency. This energy audit program is likely toast under the current oppressive dictatorial regime. Typical stuff you know for the Party of NO. But never fear - the already super wealthy are safe, providing millions of jobs, sharing in the bounty and are sound with Brownbackward around. Who needs extra revenue, we all know the super wealthy's money ain't no good in these here parts anyway, except for passing favorable legislation. Woowh! Prayer must work - it is sprinkling in Lawrence right now!! Praise Brownbackward.

Flap Doodle 4 years, 2 months ago

Is there a web app somewhere that keeps generating cutesy variations of the governor's name? You disappointed progressives seem to have an never-ending supply of them.

tomatogrower 4 years, 2 months ago

Why don't you try and defend what Brownback is doing, instead of complaining about his nicknames? The only real defense that you have is that you think the Koch brothers deserve more government money, since they have to spend so much money buying politicians all over the country. You do understand that the Kochs are big in biofuel and oil, and that they already get huge government subsidies.

Why not just come out and say you support large cooperations running our government and you do not support small business, innovation, and entrepreneurship, instead of worrying about nicknames? What is your defense of Governor Brownback. There is that better?

jafs 4 years, 2 months ago

If so, it must be the same one that generates those for our president's name.

tomatogrower 4 years, 2 months ago

Please explain why you don't support this program. Please explain why this money that was not a handout has been turned into a handout. I thought conservatives hated handouts.

Ken Lassman 4 years, 2 months ago

Hey, if you think Efficiency Kansas is a good program (I do) and doesn't deserve gutting (I don't), then do something useful like getting ahold of your representative and state Senator and let them know what you think (I will). Just whining about the sad governance in our state is not enough any more. It's past time to let folks know who are supposed to be representing us that this is not acceptable.

tomatogrower 4 years, 2 months ago

Believe me. I will add this to all the other complaints. Send it to the governor too. It probably won't do much good, since he is bound to his puppet masters, but I intend to work hard to make sure this man is not reelected. Wake up Kansas. He gutted this program, because his puppet masters couldn't figure out a way to exploit it, so they just get the governor to divert the funds to something they are exploiting.

I have lived almost 60 years, and thought that corruptions that have happened in the past were bad, but these new radical Republicans are making me really worried. We survived all the ones in the past, so I thought, yes we'll survive this one, but now I'm not so sure. Especially since so many people are wrapped up into the celebrity news, that they don't even know what is happening. I am always running into people in this town who don't even know the SRS offices are closing. They clearly don't understand the consequences of this diversion of funding, that tax payer money is now going into the coffers of millionaires, or I guess billionaires, instead of helping small business and homeowners.

Flap Doodle 4 years, 2 months ago

I'm insulating my cave with pulped carbon credits.

tomatogrower 4 years, 2 months ago

More profound defense of Brownback and his puppetmasters.

gl0ck0wn3r 4 years, 2 months ago

Yeah, because you can't make fun of leftist stupidity without somehow actively supporting rightist politicians or the reverse. Makes sense.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 2 months ago

I think you're the one needing to do a little re-posting, once you've figured out how to make a little sense.

tomatogrower 4 years, 2 months ago

Where are all the Tea Party people and Brownback supporters? Can you not spin this? Seems a little odd that you can't defend this stupid move by one of your wonderful leaders. I know Fox can't tell you what to say, since they aren't going to deal with such a small matter. Surely there is someone you can call to tell you the right talking points. A good program promoting small business and helping out homeowners. Not a handout. Diverted to big business which is already getting big handouts, not loans. Silence from the far right. Real agenda of far right revealed, and they stay silent, hoping no one will notice.

Sigmund 4 years, 2 months ago

I gather the homeowner must incur substantial debt in the form of loans as the scheme appears to depend on early adopters funding a loan pool for later participants. A couple of questions then: 1. What is the upfront costs to the home owner of a energy audit and who pays it? 2. Can someone post a link to the product produced for the homeowner of a energy audit? 3. Does the "savings" to the homeowner include one-time tax credits or deductions (aka as tax loopholes) for purchase of energy efficient items?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 2 months ago

Looks like the website that used to answer your questions has been taken down.

How convenient.

Sigmund 4 years, 2 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (anonymous) replies… "Looks like the website that used to answer your questions has been taken down."

Perhaps someone supporting or opposing the program can answer then.

Sigmund 4 years, 2 months ago

KansasConscience (anonymous) says… "It's a good program, not a scam. Home owners pay the energy audit cost, other up front costs, loan initiation fee and the loan (as part of the electric bill)."

No matter how "good" the program, if Kansans were not making use of the programs, for whatever reason, then I am not sure what it makes sense keeping the program when other programs have greater participation and resources (tax payer dollars) are limited.

KansasConscience (anonymous) says…"The savings are designed to lower the electric bill by about the same amount as the loan payment, making it "transparent" to the homeowner."

Meaning total monthly cash outflow is not impacted but the homeowner has added more debt. Why is the State of Kansas even involved in the process? As far as I can see the program is only useful to those who are not credit worthy to begin with and the State is there only to back the loans in case of default. Energy efficiency is a good thing, but not every good thing needs to have the State involvement.

stnick 4 years, 2 months ago


You just trying to argue - then get a life. You like paying more to the electric co and gas company then you need to - fine.

I got an audit in Feb. said I needed to insulate my basement, walls, add to attic and air seal. New furnace / ac and mechanical ventilation. Took me until June to get all the pricing together. Contractor appts. review quotes, talk to auditor. Sort it all out. etc etc etc. I spend about 2500 per year in my 1960 era house for gas and elec. My loan will be for $12,800 over 15 years. I will add to that $3,474 to use the contractors I wanted to. Total money going to local small businesses (3 in my case) is $15,680. I will pay 73.20 per month to Westar for repayment. I will save about 81.00 per month average between my electric and gas bill. Depends on weather.

What will I get? financing for new furnace, ac. Insulation! I will use less and increase my wife's comfort, our safety and have better indoor air. My auditor told me to make the house breathe where I wanted it to - so I am.

Could I have spent the 16K from my savings, yep! Would I have done so? Without the 60 page report from my energy auditor, probably not. Was it free? Nope! I spent a bunch of hours getting several contractors in, getting their prices and sorting through the stuff - yep time consuming. Westar came out Feb 14 with an e-mail about the program and I scheduled an audit the next week. Then It took me until July to get my prices and a final approval on the funding. If it takes time, then perhaps you should try it yourself, and quit asking questions here.

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