‘Green’ Energy Programs Being Dismantled, Piece-by-Piece (Updated)

obama-stops-oil-drilling-utahOur “worst governor ever” is Ked-stomping whatever sort of “green energy” infrastructure the state’s built up over the last two decades. And it’s because of money – both that which can be saved over the short term and the $357,775 handed to Corbett during his initial campaign.

To be fair, we’re not sure if the governor actually wears Keds. But the Department of Environmental Protection’s office of Energy and Technology Deployment has basically been eliminated in the past seven months. The governor’s administration has actually “forbidden state executive agencies from signing contracts that support clean energy supply.”

Sources at PennFuture and the DEP say the DEP’s Office of Energy and Technology Deployment is being “quietly” downgraded by the governor. It currently does not have a director at the Deputy Secretary level. It’s climate program’s staff has been reduced by 75 percent.

The Green Government Council, created by Governor Tom Ridge, is being “gutted,” an anonymous DEP employee told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The Office of Energy Management, which administered the Guaranteed Energy Savings Act, has seen its director fired, its staff reassigned and it’s been moved to the Bureau of Public Works.

About 106,000 Pennsylvanians are currently employed in clean energy jobs are at risk of losing those jobs with the cuts. According to the Post-Gazette:

[DEP spokeswoman Katy] Gresh said eliminating the sustainable energy purchase program will save the state nearly $1 million. She cited two programs — a $1 million grant program for small business energy efficiency and a still-in-development energy efficiency program that would use $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy — as examples of the state’s continued commitment to energy conservation.

Christina Simeone, director of PennFuture’s Energy Center and formerly the special assistant for energy and climate at DEP, said the policy changes and staffing reductions are crippling the department.

“I have concerns about whether the remaining staff of every office can handle the required workloads,” Ms. Simeone said. “The programs and staff have been marginalized so much.”

The smart ones began buying up their natural gas assets years ago, when it became clear former Governor Ed Rendell’s and the country’s general performance would lead to a Republican who, by definition, can be bought and sold on this issue, would be sitting at the tip top of Harrisburg come 2011.

Anyone else looking to buy into the natural gas world of Pennsylvania, now’s your time! The state leadership clearly does not care about long term consequences, in spite of all the “green” plumage you see throughout Philadelphia.

To be clear, blame should be given to Gov. Corbett here, but not really. Dude’s a politician. Politicians and other humans do things for people who give them money. And he was given a lot of money by a lot of people who wanted natural gas drilling legalized and then some. So, you know, good for all of them.

Image: Treehugger

UPDATE: The Corbett Administration has denied many of the facts in the article we’ve linked to/blogged of here.

• Contrary to Pennfuture’s claims, repeated by Mr. Hopey, DEP never had primary oversight of either the energy reduction or AEPS acts – both are administered by the Public Utility Commission. The Governor is committed to the state’s full implementation of its AEPS and energy reduction acts.
• DEP’s Office of Energy and Technology Deployment was not disbanded – it was renamed as part of an agency re-organization and is in fact currently headed by an extremely qualified deputy secretary.
• The claim that the Guaranteed Energy Savings Act was transferred “from the Department of General Services to the Bureau of Public Works” makes little sense, as the Bureau of Public Works is located within the Department of General Services. The program is appropriately under review to ensure that it provides both the energy and financial savings envisioned by the Act.
• The claim that the Commonwealth bought 50% of its energy from renewable resources is misleading. Rather, the prior Administration entered into contracts with out of state companies (Texas and Colorado) to buy “energy credits” for the right to claim in advertising campaigns that Pennsylvania was supporting renewable energy. I am confident that, facing a $4.2 billion deficit, citizens appreciate the Governor’s steps to conserve limited taxpayer dollars wherever possible.
• Mr. Hopey bases most of his claims on a Pennfuture press release, while overlooking that Pennfuture received a $138,000 “WAM” grant from the prior Administration to “educate” the public about renewable energy.

Governor Corbett understands the critical importance of all energy resources, including renewables, both to our economy and our quality of life. He remains committed to policies which respect taxpayer dollars and grow all our energy industries in a sustainable manner.

3 Responses to “ ‘Green’ Energy Programs Being Dismantled, Piece-by-Piece (Updated) ”

  1. Regardless of what the new Pennsylvania energy czar says, the Office of Energy and Technology Deployment (OETD) has been dismantled. The OETD Deputy Secretary has been replaced by the Deputy Secretary for External Affairs. Former OETD staff have been terminated or reassigned to the Bureau of Oil and Gas.

    There is no denying that the focus on building Pennsylvania’s clean energy economy by promoting solar and wind projects and energy efficiency has been diminished. So far, no one in the administration – from the governor’s energy executive to the new Office for External Affairs to the DEP spokesperson – has articulated a comprehensive energy policy that includes anything except exploiting shale gas deposits. Recent public statements by Environmental Protection Secretary Krancer about a “forced conversion” to renewable forms of energy, and the decision to abandon purchases of renewable electricity, have created concerns among clean energy businesses and employees.

    The administration’s decision to disband the staff of the Office of Energy Management within the Department of General Services (DGS) and suspend the energy savings program it administered takes away a valuable resource for municipalities, school districts and government agencies interested in implementing energy efficiency and conservation. This programs save taxpayers money.
    Governor Corbett’s commitment to promote Pennsylvania’s renewable energy industry can be determined by specific and clear answers to these questions:

    • With the OETD office dismantled, where and how will the work previously assigned to that office be conducted? What resources will be devoted to this work?

    • Does the governor intend to restaff the DGS Office of Energy Management? How will the Guaranteed Energy Savings Act program administration and procedures change for government agencies, municipalities and school districts?

    • Where does Governor Corbett stand on the proposed legislation to protect and promote solar energy jobs in Pennsylvania?

    • Does Governor Corbett support an extension of the state’s energy efficiency mandate for electric utilities (Act 129)?

    • What is the governor’s position on alternative transportation fuels and policies like the northeast regional Clean Energy Standard?

    • Does the governor plan to continue long-standing clean energy funding programs such as PEDA, Energy Harvest, AFIG, and incredibly successful new programs such as Pennsylvania Sunshine?

    Pennsylvania has established itself as a leader in the clean energy economy. Governor Corbett should continue this leadership to grow our economy, create jobs, and help clean up our air and water.

  2. Mike says:

    Pennsylvania is home to some really exciting renewable companies. I hope the Gov. recognizes that. Ocean Thermal Energy Corporation is based in Lancaster, and is on the verge of launching zero emission, 24/7 power plants in different parts of the world. Lots more info on the technology at http://www.theonprojec.org/?utm_source=PhillyNow&utm_medium=blog&utm_term=renewableenergy&utm_campaign=OnProject

    Really cool stuff, and coming out of the state run by Corbett.

  3. Mike says:

    Correction on last link!

    http://www.theonproject.org/?utm_source=PhillyNow&utm_medium=blog&utm_term=renewableenergy&utm_campaign=OnProject

    That works! Helping solve the world’s energy crisis and coming from PA.

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