Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Has Your House Been Weatherized Yet? I Did Not Think So...$5Billion and Counting...

Here is a clip from CNN from LAST April talking about the weatherization plan...IMPORTANT to watch to get a frame of reference for what is written below...

NYTIMES: "Hiring Freezes Hamper Weatherization Plan"---Article suggests that one of the marquee programs touted under the, now 1 year old, $787 Billion Fiscal Stimulus Plan, is falling far short of showing results:
President Obama’s plan to create jobs and rein in energy costs through a steep increase in money for weatherizing the homes of low-income Americans has so far borne little fruit, with many of the biggest states meeting less than 2 percent of their three-year goals to date, the Department of Energy’s inspector general said in a reportTuesday.The inspector general, Gregory H. Friedman, called the lack of progress “alarming.”
This program is "only" $5Bof the total $787B (or 0.63%) but it was one of the most publically touted programs to garner public support for passing the stimulus. It was sold as program that was going to put people to work immediately AND save energy:
Far into the nation’s winter heating season, the program for the most part has neither saved energy nor put people to work, Mr. Friedman wrote. “The job creation impact of what was considered to be one of the department’s most ‘shovel ready’ projects has not materialized,” the report said...
In defense of the performance officials blamed the recession and bureaucratic delays:
Yet the report said action was hobbled by bureaucratic delays and by the recession itself, as spending cuts resulting from the economic downturn forced states to trim personnel expenses.  Many states either furloughed the state employees who would administer such programs or instituted hiring freezes that prevented state offices from processing additional work — even though the federal government would have paid the additional salaries, the report found. Another stumbling block was a decision by Congress to require contractors on the weatherization jobs to pay prevailing wages, the report said. To determine what those salary levels were, the Labor Department undertook a survey. In the meantime, the Energy Department instructed states to go ahead and put people to work and to keep records so the federal government could make retroactive payments if necessary. But most states did not begin hiring until the wage question was resolved last fall, the report said.
It is apparent that the "creation" of these weatherizing jobs will not occur until sometime after the economy starts to recover. Can they still be classified as "recovery" jobs? Can this program be called successful? Should it be reconsidered and the money allocated to a more productive use?  Just askin'...
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