We’ll be hearing a lot of the next few days on how “weatherization” projects will save the economy. Let’s take a look at how such projects are going in the president’s home state of Illinois:
Federal stimulus funding has provided $242 million to Illinois to weatherize more than 25,000 homes, but poor oversight of that work puts the funding at risk and in some cases puts the residents of poorly weatherized homes in danger, an audit report warns.
In an interim report released today, the Energy Department’s inspector general warned that oversight of the Illinois program is failing at many levels.
The inspector general report says the state of Illinois has failed to inspect any weatherized units completed by seven of the 35 local agencies carrying out the work. The state also lacks a system for tracking major findings of its inspections and has not inspected 5 percent of DOE-funded weatherized units, as required by DOE.
The report was issued before the audit was complete in light of the seriousness of the problems found, the inspectors said. Similar reviews are currently being conducted in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia, they said.
The auditors found oversight failures at the federal, state and local agency levels, which in one case led to a life-threatening condition.
During a walk-through in which DOE auditors and a state program official accompanied an inspector for a local agency carrying out home weatherizations, the agency inspector did not call for a routine gas leak test to be performed on a newly installed furnace. When the state official asked that the test be performed, a gas leak was found. If the state official had not been monitoring the inspection and asked for the additional test, the oversight could have resulted in serious injury to the occupants and damage to or destruction of the residence, the inspector general report says.
DOE also has obligations to conduct monitoring visits in the state that have not been met, the auditors said. That issue will be reviewed in more depth in a future assessment, they said.
The auditors called on DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy to increase its state-level monitoring and to help states meet their own obligations under the stimulus grant.
DOE management concurred with the recommendations.
Gird your loins.