Porkulus Follies: Weatherization program a flop

posted at 1:30 pm on March 28, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

When Barack Obama signed Porkulus over a year ago, one of its signature programs promised an explosion of jobs in the construction and contracting industries thanks to federal subsidies for weatherizing older homes.  In fact, as early as April 2009, Obama began bragging about the new jobs that his tax credits on weatherization and energy-efficiency remodeling would bring.  Eleven months later, the Associated Press reports that the explosion has turned into a multibillion-dollar implosion (via Fausta and JWF):

After a year of crippling delays, President Barack Obama’s $5 billion program to install weather-tight windows and doors has retrofitted a fraction of homes and created far fewer construction jobs than expected.

In Indiana, state-trained workers flubbed insulation jobs. In Alaska, Wyoming and the District of Columbia, the program has yet to produce a single job or retrofit one home. And in California, a state with nearly 37 million residents, the program at last count had created 84 jobs. …

But after a year, the stimulus program has retrofitted 30,250 homes — about 5 percent of the overall goal — and fallen well short of the 87,000 jobs that the department planned, according to the latest available figures.

As the Obama administration promotes a second home energy-savings program — a $6 billion rebate plan — some experts are asking whether that will pay off for homeowners or for the planet.

”A very rosy picture was painted that energy efficiency would be a great way to create jobs and save money,” said Michael Shellenberger, an energy expert who heads the Breakthrough Institute, an Oakland-based think tank that is financed by nonpartisan foundations and works on energy, climate change and health care issues. ”The Obama administration risks overpromising again.”

What happened?  Like most of us predicted, the heavy bureaucracy of the federal government ground the program to a halt.  Some states are just now getting the funds, such as Texas, after disputes over wage controls.  In fact, the Department of Labor didn’t even get around to clarifying the rules until September, when weatherization should have been completed for maximum energy savings.  They had to reclarify the rules “a few months later,” AP reports, after counties across the nation complained about the first declaration.

Instead of creating 85,000 jobs with the $5 billion, the Department of Energy (which runs the program) claimed it created 8500 jobs, a tenth of the goal.  That would put the cost of each job at a whopping $588,235.30, and that’s only if the DoE has its numbers right.  Those numbers appear to have been calculated using the White House “saved or created” algorithm, which wasn’t exactly known for its accuracy.  In any case, those jobs would likely be temporary anyway, which means we just tossed away $5 billion on temp work that mostly didn’t occur, and when it did, got done poorly.

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Any Barry’s program is a HEAP of crap.

bayview on March 28, 2010 at 6:31 PM

Ahhhh…anyone guess the ethnicity of those “contractors” receiving these grants to weatherize?

I know from personal experience. This program is wealth redistribution…..call it reparations.

Pure and simple.

rickyricardo on March 28, 2010 at 8:12 PM

Absence of lefty trolls again noted (ernest excepted, but he was trying to position himself on the right of this issue).

AUINSC on March 28, 2010 at 8:52 PM

The only “expansion” of business I have heard of is toll manufacturing so that entire facilities can be shut down.
Not exactly a rosy picture if you company sends it’s business elsewhere.

mad scientist on March 28, 2010 at 9:05 PM

So if the few workers that signed on with a company with these contracts and the work stops do they get unemployment checks?

docflash on March 28, 2010 at 9:13 PM

One million shovel ready jobs!!
canopfor on March 28, 2010 at 1:46 PM

Jobs for shovels, not people.

You have to pay close attention to what Obama says.

DSchoen on March 29, 2010 at 12:01 AM

This is what change looks like.

Alfresco on March 29, 2010 at 7:53 AM

Department of Energy (which runs the program) claimed it created 8500 jobs

But what kind of jobs? How many of these jobs were “created” within the DOE just to administrate the program (vs. say, the private sector)? I’m guessing a bunch.

A microcosm of Obamacare.

pain train on March 29, 2010 at 9:23 AM

If the Red Communist had his way, it would create more jobs for intrusinve home inspectors than caulkers. How about forcing people to pay hundreds for an energy audit and more than they spend on sealant and weatherstripping.
How about forcing people that are facing foreclosure to spend about 2,ooo dollars they can’t find to have a home inspection report so it can be leggaly sold.

seven on March 29, 2010 at 9:41 AM

As an insulation contractor for the 22 years I’ve seen this weatherization program come and go over those years. The difference this time is huge amount of $ being tossed at it. I’ve been in the biz for 29 years total, but right now people that took a two week training course are now energy auditors, and are in charge of telling me how to do this work. I’m forced to pay Davis/Bacon wage scale to any one that I hire to perform Weatherization work, even tho they can’t load a tube of caulking into a caulking gun. Here in Maine it all goes out to bid, Many start-up company’s sprang up out of no where only to fail(they bid too low). I wonder if they are still counted as saved or created? Some of the people we weatherize are elderly and I don’t hold any ill will, but some of these folks are just too lazy to do this stuff themselves. Why should they when someone else is paying? How about all the work being sucked out of the private sector? Jobs I normally would charge $5,000-$6,000 will cost double when done through this program. I could go on, but my blood pressure is going off the scale. I think most of you get it.

aceinstall on March 29, 2010 at 1:46 PM