This update on the federal stimulus energy funds is provided by Larry Persily from Representative Hawker’s office.
It looks like the Legislature will receive a response within the next week or two from the Department of Energy, answering whether lawmakers can wait until January to override the governor’s veto of $28.56 million in energy-efficiency economic stimulus funds and whether a legislative resolution would be sufficient if the governor still declined to participate in the funding program.
The Department of Energy also said the draft preliminary compliance guidelines issued last week for states that participate in the energy-efficiency program are totally voluntary. “It’s just a guideline,” said senior staff for State Energy Programs at the department. It’s merely a voluntary set of reporting guidelines if states choose to use them so that they can compare their energy-efficiency successes to other states using the same tools (they call them metrics). I confirmed this with the Weatherization and Intergovernmental Program manager at DOE, in addition to the State Energy Programs office.
The voluntary compliance guidelines — which are out for comment — are not even a project of the State Energy Programs office or the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at DOE. It is a project of the Building Technologies Program at DOE.
The governor pointed last week to the draft guidelines as another example of federal strings attached to the $28.56 million in energy-efficiency money that she vetoed. But confirmation from DOE that the guidelines are nothing more than a voluntary exercise corrects the governor’s assumption.
As for the Legislature’s June 3 letter to Energy Secretary Chu, asking that the department hold Alaska’s money until lawmakers reconvene in January and can take a veto override vote, the issues have been sent to the department’s general counsel for quick turnaround on legal advice. Staff expects to start drafting a response next week, with an answer back to the state within a week or two. The Secretary’s response will answer the timing question and also the second question of whether the Legislature can step in for the governor if she declines to provide the assurances required for receipt of the funding.