U.S. DOE says its efforts to create jobs with US$35.2B stimulus money was stymied by lack of 'shovel-ready' projects, fewer state staffers due to budget cuts; 45% of funding still unspent, DOE watchdog tells House panel

LOS ANGELES , November 4, 2011 () – The U.S. Dept. of Energy was impeded in its efforts to create jobs with new projects funded under the economic stimulus program, a DOE watchdog told a House panel today, reported Bloomberg News on Nov. 2.

As of Oct. 22, as much as 45% of the US$35.2 billion in DOE stimulus money was still unspent due to a lack of “shovel-ready” projects, said Gregory Friedman, DOE’s inspector general, at a hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform regulatory affairs panel.

While DOE did make an “intense effort” to use the funds, the goals set under the program were challenging, causing the department “an enormous strain,” Friedman testified, noting that “few actual ‘shovel-ready’ projects existed,” according to the article, which was carried on Businessweek.com.

Another impediment to using the funds came about because staffers that would have implemented the program in state and local governments were furloughed due to budget cuts, said Friedman.

Clean energy should not be discredited because of the program’s setbacks, said Democrats, including the oversight committee’s top Democrat, Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland, who said investments need to be made for the U.S. to remain competitive globally, Bloomberg reported.

Challenges to the Obama administration’s effort to promote alternative energy sources have come from Republicans, including Representative Darrell Issa of California, the oversight committee’s chairman.

At the opening of the hearing, Representative Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican and chairman of the regulatory affairs committee, criticized the administration for wasting “vast sums of taxpayer dollars,” reported Bloomberg.

Friedman said that DOE’s risk management documentation for the loan guarantee program fell short. DOE received $27 billion for its fiscal year 2011 annual budget, he said.

The department also had problems with programs to improve energy efficiency in homes, with nine out of 17 homes that were upgraded failing subsequent inspections by his office, said Friedman.

Solyndra LLC, a solar-panel maker based in Fremont, California, that filed for bankruptcy protection on Sept. 6, had received a $535-million loan guarantee from the DOE two years earlier, Bloomberg reported

The primary source of this article is Bloomberg, New York, New York, on Nov. 2, 2011.

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