The $28.6 million for energy efficiency that Gov. Sarah Palin vetoed last month has no real strings attached; the feds' conditions are merely perfunctory and are easily met.
This is money Alaskans can use to conserve energy and cut costs in their homes and businesses. This is money that serves Alaska's own goals for smart energy consumption.
"Someone's offered us a $28 million gift card to do good things," said Larry Persily, a legislative aide to Rep. Mike Hawker and the Legislature's point man on the federal stimulus package, of which the energy money is a part. Now legislative leaders are talking about overriding the governor's veto to take advantage of that gift card. They should do more than talk.
Gov. Palin has explained her veto as a rejection of onerous federal controls. As Persily explains it, she had a case in February, when the Department of Energy issued strict guidelines that came with the money. But DOE changed its tune when they realized "one size fits all" wouldn't work for every state or every situation. Now the rules require states to encourage high energy-efficiency standards for local communities, and for communities to make good-faith efforts to do so. That's all.
Nobody's going to check up on us.
Better weatherization and energy efficiencies already are state policy, good business and good household management. In Alaska, the money would go through the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation and the Alaska Energy Authority. Those agencies have proposed spending $4.5 million on weatherization and retrofits of community buildings. That would cut public energy costs and save property taxpayers' money. The latter should ring a familiar bell in Anchorage, where we've struggled with budget cuts and rising property taxes this year.
Another $3.9 million could pay for energy-efficient equipment rebates and incentives.
To read the complete editorial, visit The Anchorage Daily News.