Projects to weatherize homes are a key part of the Obama administration's fusion of stimulus spending and the green agenda. But a new report by the Department of Energy has found serious problems in stimulus-funded weatherization work -- problems so severe that they have resulted in homes that are not only not more energy efficient but are actually dangerous for people to live in.
The study, by the Department's inspector general, examined the work of what's called the Weatherization Assistance Program, or WAP, in Illinois. Last year, the Department awarded Illinois $242 million, which was expected to pay for the weatherization of 27,000 homes. Specifically, Energy Department inspectors took a close look at the troubled operations of the Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County, known as CEDA, which is the largest recipient of weatherization money in Illinois with $91 million to weatherize 12,500 homes. (Cook County is, of course, home to Chicago.)
Inspectors failed 14 of 15 homes that were weatherized by the community-based operation that was funded to do the work with Porkulus dollar because of poor workmanship and/or inadequate initial assessments. One failed because new attic insulation was put in a house that already had a leaky roof which was not repaired.
Not only was the workmanship crappy, it was dangerous, as well.
Department inspectors found "heat barriers around chimneys that had not been installed, causing fire hazards." They found "a furnace [that] had not been vented properly." The found "a shut-off valve that had not been installed on a gas stove." And they found "carbon monoxide detectors, smoke alarms and fire extinguishers had not been installed as planned."
And what's a little government contracting in Chicago without graft and fraud?
And then there was fraud. At ten of the 15 homes visited, Department inspectors found examples in which "a contractor had installed a 125,000 BTU boiler, but had billed CEDA for a 200,000 BTU boiler costing an estimated $1,000. more." Another contractor "billed for almost four times the amount of drywall actually installed." And another "installed 12 light bulbs but had billed CEDA for 20." (The Department found that CEDA paid almost three times the retail price for each light bulb.) "Billing issues appeared to be pervasive," the report concludes.
The President has admitted to there being no such thing as "shovel-ready" projects but it's good to see, however, that those "fraud-ready" projects sprout up like weeds.
* The picture is from our trip out to Colorado and if you click to enlarge, you will better be able to see the signalmen on either side of the highway who will stop/slow down traffic on that stretch of highway. There was one problem, however... there was not any work going on at the time nor was there any signs of work on or in the vicinity of the highway and thus, this picture became the perfect metaphor for Porkulus.