More Department of Energy Boondoggles

The latest scheme from the Department of Energy (the agency that brought you such winners as Solyndra) involves another $4 billion in energy efficiency “investments.” By now, we’re all well aware of what “investments” means to the Obama Administration: spending your money.

But wait, this loan is different! Or so they say. Even former President Bill Clinton is getting in on the deal, by helping to announce the initiative with President Obama later today. The White House claims that this initiative will pay for itself and avoid all the problems brought to light by Solyndra’s collapse (we’ve heard this before).

Essentially, the program calls for a minimum of a $2 billion commitment from federal agencies and another $2 billion commitment from the private sector. The federal chief performance officer and deputy director for management at OMB, Jeff Zients, even said that this won’t cost taxpayers and assured the public it’s different from the loan guarantee program:

“The private sector takes all the risk here, so the federal government is not at risk for the investments.”

Guess how the money is supposed to be paid back? Through “energy savings.” So companies will have to put up thousands, maybe even millions, of dollars of their own capital to receive matching funds for the government for “energy efficiency.” Although what we know about current “energy efficiency” upgrades is that the savings are so small that it will take decades to make up the out-of-pocket cost.

Mr. Zients also assured the public that these “investments” will be awarded based on merits and rate of investment return. Like we haven’t heard that before:

“The bottom line is we will be keeping score and making sure we will have good implementation here.”

We thought the loan guarantee program was supposed to be based on merit. How quickly will we find out that these “commitments” went to President Obama’s campaign donors?

This isn’t even the most egregious use of taxpayer funds. According to Energy & Environment News (sub. req’d), the Department of Energy awarded a $230,000 contract to the Association of Energy Services Professionals (AESP) to create a website promoting “green” jobs. The catch is that the agency can’t list actual “green” job openings.

The website will instead provide information on what training and education one needs to get into the “green” jobs industry. They’ll give “sample” career paths but not actual career paths. So we’re spending $230,000 worth of taxpayer funds to tell people what’s needed for a “green” job but not where to go to find one?

And Congress can’t think of anything to cut…

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