Archive for Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Delay means Kansans won’t get federal funds to make their homes more energy efficient

October 18, 2011


— Federal stimulus dollars that were supposed to go toward making thousands of Kansans’ homes more energy efficient will now fund two renewable energy projects because the state could not spend the money fast enough, state officials said Tuesday.

“I’m sure there are some people who will not receive money. I take all the blame right here. We did the best we could at the time,” Kansas Secretary of Commerce Pat George told the House-Senate Committee on Energy and Environmental Policy.

The state received $38.3 million in 2009 under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to set up a program that offered low-interest loans to Kansans to make their homes more energy efficient.

But the program started slowly. At first the interest rates weren’t competitive, and the requirements to qualify were relatively high.

During the 2011 session, the Kansas Legislature directed the KCC to work with the Kansas Board of Regents, and that resulted in nearly $7 million being used for energy projects on college campuses.

But with the clock ticking toward the April 1, 2012, deadline, and the bulk of the grant still unspent, Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration pulled funding from the program and received federal approval to spend $20 million on two renewable biofuels projects. In addition, $1.5 million has been set aside to take care of the home efficiency loans that had been in the process of approval when the state redirected the funding.

Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, and Rep. Annie Kuether, D-Topeka, expressed concern about the change in funding. “Business is now getting the benefit. The people we serve have been cut out of the loop,” Kuether said.

George said the two projects would create jobs and position Kansas as a leader in biofuels.

Some $15.6 million of the stimulus funds will go toward the purchase of biomethane digester equipment technology at an ethanol facility operated by Western Plains Energy near Oakley. The company’s power plant will be converted to use biomethane produced from cattle manure instead of natural gas to run the biofuel production process, according to the Commerce Department.

And $4.9 million will be used to support a biomass harvesting, handling and delivery demonstration project operated by the Kansas Alliance for Biorefining and Bioenergy.


tolawdjk 6 years, 8 months ago

Papa knows best on how to spend the family budget, lil Billy. Yes, new glass in the windows would help keep out the winter wind, but grain alcohol and cow farts are warming too.

Ken Lassman 6 years, 8 months ago

This is a classic example of revisionist history unfolding before your very eyes. The energy audit program DID get a slow start, primarily due to the state being disorganized and not creating a very good system for doing energy audits in our state, at least compared to other states with the same amount of time, who had no problem using the funds to do extensive weatherization of homes across their states.

But Kansas finally got its act together, and the energy audits were beginning to really zip along, and THAT's when Brownback pulled the plug on the audit program so fast that many homeowners got shafted. They had just shelled out $100 for an audit, with the expectation that they would get identified weatherization projects financed with a revolving fund. Instead, Brownback pulled ALL financing from the program to give to---ethanol projects???? At a time when ethanol plants are closing all across the midwest, we are spending this weatherization money to build a new plant and build a distribution network???? Sure smells like political payoff to me. Some journalists need to get to the bottom of who got these monies and what relationship they have to legislators/the administration.

But I can't believe the tripe that Pat George just dished out as to why folks are getting shafted. It's almost as bad as Seidlecki taking credit for the innovative way communities faced with SRS office closures had to step up to the plate and dish out local dollars to keep them open. This is pretty much alcoholic reasoning in my estimation. Well, maybe not--I don't want to insult the problem drinkers out there by associating them with this craziness.

Neomarxist123 6 years, 8 months ago

Even progressives are realizing this was a mistake.

Two reliably liberal commentators, Eleanor Clift and Daniel Stone (of Newsweek), wrote an article in the Daily Best Titled "Obama's Big Green Mess".

Summarizing - about 14% of the weatherization projects sponsored failed to meet safety or quality standards.

"A senior Energy Department official agreed: "We were clearly not ready to take all this money, especially at the state level."

Progressives will use this as another chance to bash Brownback - but every state had trouble spending this money in a timely fashion. And again, the money that was spent was partially wasted on shoddy work.

Just like "shovel ready jobs" (which even Obama now admits didn't exist) this was another waste of our tax-dollars. "Green Jobs", Solyndra, and now this. When even liberals like Clift and Stone can see the error, why can't Obama?

Alexander Smith 6 years, 8 months ago

LOL.. so your making thedailybeast as a valid resource...err okay.

Anyway, Brownback is one of the worst govs we have ever had. He wasted the money for Efficiency Kansas project by not ensuring the project was being handled effectively. He then give the rest of the funds away to a ethanol company.

OH did I mention how your great GOP leader lost the state 30+million dollars by saying no to the feds as an act of 3 year old and snubbing Obama.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 8 months ago

"Summarizing - about 14% of the weatherization projects sponsored failed to meet safety or quality standards."

Meaning the 86% did meet safety and quality standards-- Not really all that bad for an newly established sector of the economy that we badly need to succeed.

""Green Jobs", Solyndra, and now this."

And what critics of the "green jobs" initiatives fail to ever mention is that the loans to Solyndra were only a fraction of the money loaned under that program, and the great majority of those projects are extremely successful.

That doesn't mean that mistakes weren't made with Solyndra that need to be corrected. But it also doesn't mean that the baby should be thrown out with the bathwater.

getreal 6 years, 8 months ago

As long as Brownback's campaign contributors get the money then all is well. Yes, Western Plains Energy is a campaign contributor.

Keith 6 years, 8 months ago

More gravy for the 1%. And they wonder why the OWS protests continue to grow.

pentiuman 6 years, 8 months ago

"In addition, $1.5 million has been set aside to take care of the home efficiency loans that had been in the process of approval when the state redirected the funding."

That's irresponsible reporting, as the $1.5 million was also originally taken by Governor Brownback, and only available to fund some in the Efficiency KS program, because it was given back to KS due to regulations the business couldn't / didn't want to meet!

A great program is down the drain, due to dirty politics. Who elected the clown???

Paul R Getto 6 years, 8 months ago

"Who elected the clown???" === 30-some percent of those eligible to vote.

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