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