Can we stop subsidizing green energy, now? Please?

The Energy Department’s (DOE) internal watchdog is attacking DOE management of a $1.5-billion stimulus program to help develop technology that captures industrial carbon dioxide emissions.

An Office of Inspector General (IG) audit made public Tuesday examines $1.1 billion in funding for 15 projects.

In the four years since the law has passed, less than 50% of dollars have been spent, so the Inspector General says hope exists to better watch over the rest of the money:

Overall, the IG found that of the $1.5 billion for the industrial emissions program in the 2009 stimulus law, only about $623 million has been spent, and says there’s room to improve the program.

“With approximately $860 million in Recovery Act Carbon Program funds yet to be spent, we believe the Department still has an opportunity to implement needed program enhancements and internal controls designed to increase the likelihood of a successful outcome,” the report states.

DOE agrees with most of the recommendations for enhancing the program’s oversight, and is taking steps to improve its procedures, according to the report.

Of course, no government agency can accept criticism wholesale. How is the DOE defending itself? Why, relatively few companies wanted the money, so they just shoved it out the door!

Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy (FE) Chuck McConnell notes that DOE, facing a Sept. 30, 2010 deadline to obligate funds, had fewer candidates for funding that anticipated.

“With insufficient time remaining for FE to complete another competitive solicitation, FE recommended to DOE’s Recovery Act team that these funds be obligated to existing FE research and development . . . projects that could accelerate the achievement of the objectives of the Department’s Clean Coal Research Program. This recommendation was accepted,” McConnell writes.

He said those projects could, if successful, produce technologies that might “facilitate” carbon capture from industrial sources.

A message was left with the Department of Energy’s Public Affairs Office asking why it was felt that shoving dollars out the door quickly was more important than making sure the dollars were overseen correctly. This post will be updated if the DOE responds.