WASHINGTON – A government audit released Friday found that most of the money authorized for one of the energy efficiency programs in last year’s stimulus plan is going unspent.

According to the report by the Energy Department’s inspector general, grant recipients have spent just 8.4 percent of the $3.2 billion authorized to help state and local governments become more energy efficient.

Inspector General Gregory H. Friedman said that the department “understandably” didn’t have the resources or staff in place last year to get the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program going, with only two people assigned to it at the beginning. The program is designed to help states, territories, local governments and Indian tribes improve their energy efficiency and reduce fossil fuel emissions, through projects such as retrofitting buildings.

The report found that as of this month, grant recipients had spent just $269.7 million for energy efficiency activities and/or projects. The recipients had reported in the second quarter of this year that the grant money had created or saved 2,265 jobs — or about one job per grant award.

Department spokesman Stephanie Mueller said in an e-mail that the program has picked up steam, with more than 4,000 projects now under way.


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