Energy Stimulus Money Slow to Spend, But Making Strides for Solar on Long Island and New York State
Aug 20, 2010
by EmPower Solar
If the $3.2 billion that the economic stimulus package of 2009 allocated towards energy efficiency and conservation, only 8.4% had been spent as of the beginning of this month. An Audit Report was released by the Department of Energy last week examining the status of funds granted to the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program under the Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The DOE disbursed most of the available funds for projects that would increase energy efficiency and reduce energy use and fossil fuel emissions. However, after a year only $269.7 million had been spent, producing or saving just 2,265 jobs.
Why the delays in spending? Low levels of spending and job creation were clearly not the desired outcome of this program. But the one-year analysis found impediments to implementation including administrative and regulatory issues at the federal, state, and local levels. A shortage of Department staff and abundance of federal controls have made it difficult for local governments to spend money as planned. More details on these issues can be found in the status report.
The Department of Energy had the chance to respond to this audit and argued that the program was more successful than made to appear by this report; much of the money has actually been committed to projects so there is promise of spending in the near future.
What does this mean for solar? Although most stimulus grants for renewable energy technologies are given through other areas, like the State Energy Program leg of the Recovery Act, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block includes solar power on government buildings. According to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and Governor Paterson back in March 2010, $24 million of this block funding was awarded for clean energy projects in small municipalities across New York state. Plans for this money included both solar photovoltaic and thermal systems on various facilities including fire stations, libraries, and town halls. Here is the breakdown of funds for Long Island.
It’s great to see that New York municipalities are on board and in many cases leading the mission of spreading solar energy and efficiency!