SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Veto by governor of $28.6 million in energy funds
in direct conflict with state energy goals


May 23, 2009

Senate Energy Chair Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage, confirmed Friday that she provided new information a week ago to resolve Governor Sarah Palin's concerns about accepting more than $28 million in federal stimulus funds to address Alaska's ongoing energy crisis.

"This funding would advance Alaska as a world leader in renewable energy," McGuire said. "To date, Alaska is the only state that has not accepted these funds."

On Thursday (May 21) the governor announced that she would veto $28.6 million in federal economic stimulus funding, "apparently disregarding the facts we provided," McGuire said.

"The governor's decision overlooks the fact that the requirement for meeting energy efficiency requirements can be met by local communities. The majority of larger communities have energy codes in place or are in the process of adopting them, including Haines, Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Nome, Petersburg, Palmer, Seward, Valdez, Skagway, Ketchikan, Soldotna and Wrangell," McGuire added.

"In addition," the Anchorage senator said, "the governor disregarded the advice of many organizations and Alaska shareholders including Commonwealth North, AARP, SWAMC and the Southeast Conference."

An estimated 198,000 homes need weatherization statewide in order to get to five-star rating energy efficiency. Some $360 million in appropriated funds will cover about 15-20 percent of those homes this year. "Building homes to be efficient from here on out would be a wiser use of state funds over the long term," McGuire said.

The state energy program funds would have been used for multiple energy related goals including whole community retrofits, residential renewable energy rebates, adding weatherization curriculum to the construction academy, community energy planning and commercial auditor training. "These projects would create many jobs in the energy efficiency and construction industries," the senator added.

"In addition," she said, "community energy planning is a core piece of a state energy plan. Community energy resources and energy consumption patterns vary and must be assessed and addressed individually to meet the unique needs of each region and community.

"In order to meet these goals now, the $9.6 million in Energy Efficiency Conservation and block grant funds allocated to the state must be used which would reduce the amount of those funds available for making homes more efficient in communities across Alaska."

Thursday's decision by Governor Palin to veto $28.6 million in federal stimulus funds for renewable energy projects and weatherization programs from the state budget was greeted with disappointment by House Special Committee on Energy Co-Chairs Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham, and Charisse Millett, R-Anchorage.

"This issue has been researched thoroughly by legislative staff and we couldn't find one string attached to those funds," said Representative Millett. "The governor wants the state to have 50 percent of its power generated from renewable sources by 2025. Her decision takes us a step further away from that goal."

"This is especially bad news for rural Alaska," said Representative Edgmon. "Every dollar we invest into rural Alaska that saves energy and reduces energy bills is money well spent. It also makes the energy committee's job that much harder as we try to craft a statewide energy plan over the next year."

Representatives Millett and Edgmon hope the governor will reconsider her decision and are always open to discussing the issue further with the administration.

Quoting a news release from the Alaska House Special Committee on Energy, more affordable energy is the most important issue facing Alaskans. The House Special Committee on Energy notes they will continue to take the lead on this issue by holding field hearings around the state and continuing its work on a statewide energy policy and plan.

Today (May 23rd) gubernatorial candidate Bob Poe also challenged Governor Palin's recent decision to veto over $28 million in federal stimulus funds for energy efficiencies saying Alaska should be the governor's highest priority.

Poe said, "Once again Governor Palin has demonstrated her narcissistic governance of Alaska by becoming the only Governor in America to reject federal stimulus funds to promote energy efficiency. These are funds that not only help stimulate a growing base of alternative energy companies in Alaska, but which would pay dividends in additional energy cost savings for many years to come."

Poe added, "This is just a cynical way for Palin to save a little face nationally in her earlier much touted stand to reject as much as 40% of the federal stimulus funds. Considering that one third of Alaska's current economy depends on federal spending, it further underlines the Governor's remarkable lack of understanding of the economic underpinnings that have helped our state avoid many of the economic difficulties currently experienced by many others."

"But perhaps the most striking aspect of this veto is to contrast it to $1,200 Palin paid out last year to every man, woman and child in Alaska for energy assistance, boosting everyone's Permanent Fund dividend to $3,200, and raising her popularity to record levels helping secure her as the Vice Presidential running mate pick with Senator John McCain. Apparently, when it suits the Governor's purpose she will happily spend Alaska's resources, and again when it meets her political needs she will reject very useful federal stimulus funds for Alaskans," Poe said.

Poe concluded his comments by saying, "Governor Palin's choice to veto federal stimulus funds for energy efficiency should leave no doubt in voters' minds that her highest priority is not Alaska, but her run for President in 2012."



Governor Maintains Stance on Stimulus Funds, Favors Local Control on Building Codes - Alaska Governor Sarah Palin announced today that, as previously stated, she will veto the $28.6 million in federal "stimulus" funds tied to adoption of building codes by municipalities.- More...
Thursday - May 21, 2009

Source of News:

Office of Senator Lesil McGuire

Alaska Legislature: House Special Committee on Energy

Bob Poe


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Ketchikan, Alaska