Abuses in Delaware Weatherization Program Revealed
By Josh Goodman, Staff Writer
WEATHERIZATION DEBACLE: Delaware 's stimulus-funded home weatherization program has been so plagued with missteps that the state hasn't begun any new weatherization projects since last year, the News Journal reports . Instead, state officials are inspecting homes for which work already has been done. They're discovering that contractors billed the state for shoddy, unnecessarily expensive work that has failed to lower homeowners' energy bills. "The cash grab that went on was just amazing," one state official told the News Journal . Delaware's attorney general is investigating the program, but no charges have been filed yet. Delaware's troubles come as the federal Government Accountability Office is reporting that stimulus-funded energy efficiency programs are struggling to meet their goals.
WOLF DEAL: Gray wolves will soon lose endangered species protections in much of the West under a provision in Friday's federal budget deal, the New York Timesreports . Under the congressional action, the wolves would be delisted in Montana , Idaho and parts of Washington , Oregon and Utah , leaving their management in the hands of state officials. They wouldn't be delisted in Wyoming , where the state insists on giving residents broad leeway to shoot the wolves. Ever since they were reintroduced in the West in the mid-1990s, wolves have been the subject of disputes between ranchers and environmentalists, as well as between federal and state officials. Just this weekend, a federal judge rejected a settlement to delist the wolves in Montana and Idaho, but Congress' action would supersede that decision.
WIND LEADER: Iowa continues to lead the nation in wind power use according to an industry study, the Des Moines Register reports . The American Wind Energy Association said the state receives 15 percent of its power generation capacity from wind, more than North Dakota (12 percent) and Minnesota (10 percent). The state may soon expand its use of wind further: The Iowa Senate voted last week to provide tax credits for wind and solar energy systems.
WIND SETBACK: Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley's proposal to require utilities in the state to buy offshore wind power is dead for this year, the Baltimore Sun reports . O'Malley made the offshore wind mandate one of his top legislative priorities this year, citing the jobs and clean energy available from developing offshore winds. Skeptics in the legislature, which is controlled by O'Malley's fellow Democrats, worried that the costs were uncertain — costs that would be passed on to consumers via their electricity bills. O'Malley plans to bring the bill back next year.
SUBSIDIZING SOLAR: A solar panel manufacturing company won at least $51.5 million in state and local government incentives to locate in Arizona , the Arizona Republic reports . Arizona economic development officials celebrated First Solar's decision to build the plant there, instead of in Texas or New Mexico . It will employ 600 people. Among the benefits, Arizona offered the company discounted prices for electricity and for the land, a former General Motors testing facility in Mesa.