The Dernogalizer

March 15, 2009

O’Malley Raiding 70 million from Efficiency Fund

Filed under: Energy/Climate,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 1:15 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Last year, I wrote a column(don’t mind the misspelled title, not my doing) criticizing the Maryland state government for only spending about half of the funds that the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative generated for the government into energy efficiency. I would highly encourage a glance at it, but the main logic is this…investing in energy efficiency is one of the best things we can do. There is no faster way to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Jobs are created. You also get the best return on your money of any energy investment. For every $1 invested in energy efficiency, we get an average of $4 back in savings. Who would’ve thought the cheapest KW is the one you never have to use?

I’m sure people have noticed their electricity bills have gone up a lot over the past few years. Imagine if there were two things the government could do with the money it has to address this problem. On one hand, they could write you a check for a couple hundred dollars(which is how much higher your bill is every month now…). This might be nice short-term relief, but that money will be gone fast, and you’ll be dealing with the same old electric bill the next month. On the other hand, the government could take the money and invest it in energy efficiency, reducing the size of your electric bill over time every SINGLE month. This is long term relief. While spending this money, we would also be creating jobs, addressing our energy shortage, and reducing pollution. This should be a very easy decision.

But no. Last year, half the money from RGGI went to energy efficiency. This time around, the RGGI fund has 70 million dollars. Instead of following through on his \”Empower Maryland Initiative\” , Governor O’Malley is raiding the RGGI fund for all 70 million, and throwing all of it towards “rate relief”. The exact same thing I criticized him for going halfway on last year. This isn’t forward thinking. It might not even qualify as thinking.

Now, I am mindful that in these tough times, rate relief is certainly better than no relief. However, this isn’t the kind of relief that we can count on next year, or the year after that. Short term fixes might put a band-aid over the problem, but we need long term investments to solve the problem.

So, if you live in Maryland and are for our state politicians spending money with more than just the 2010 elections in mind, take a minute and contact your three state delegates and your state senator. This is especially important if they are on the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, or the House Appropriations Committee. If you aren’t sure who your representatives are, you can find them here.

On a broader note, if you don’t live in Maryland but are concerned that your state reps could be pulling a similar stunt(because they probably are!), I’d suggest getting on the phone with them and asking them to maintain whatever commitments they have to energy efficiency.


  1. hey, thanks for the comment on my blog post — this is a fascinating news item… it begs the question, though: why doesn’t maryland smack down BG&E for its thieving rate increase?

    Comment by Michelle Donahue — March 15, 2009 @ 12:01 pm | Reply

    • Hey Michelle thanks for the comment and question. I think that since it appears there’s going to be a re-regulation of Maryland’s utilities by our Public Service Commission, that is our form of a “smack down” on BG&E. I believe there have also been some meager checks sent out by the utilities in the last year, but the payoff hardly comes close to the profit these companies made.

      I think beyond that, quite frankly it’s my belief that a large part of this rate increase is just incompetence on the part of Maryland’s politicians. I write about this in my article I link in the above post, but back in 1999 when the state government voted for deregulation, we did that in exchange for the electric rates being frozen until 2005. So for 6 years, we weren’t paying for the increase in utility prices, and then the cap on rates came off and we got 6 years worth of rate increases crunched into 1. At the same time, since we weren’t regulating the utility companies, they went from investing money into energy efficiency to keep electric usage down to investing no money in efficiency, so our energy demand went wayyy up. The real smackdown should be, who voted for deregulation in 1999? They shouldn’t still be in office.

      Comment by Matt Dernoga — March 15, 2009 @ 12:12 pm | Reply

  2. At greeNEWit, we have been lobbying this issue for months and testifying as A Leading Energy Auditing & Energy Solutions Business for the past 2 weeks in Annapolis. It’s sad how right you are and how eco-LOGICAL the solution is. Yet, as we passionately testified about the proven results we have found performing these home energy audits and creating green jobs using the RGGI funds… our chosen governing officials aimlessly twittered on the crackberry’s and didn’t really seem to listen or get it.

    We hope our efforts have not fallen on deaf ears and we appreciate your outreach efforts, but if short-term solutions are continually supplied, we wonder, how can anything but short-term results be expected?

    Comment by Josh — March 15, 2009 @ 11:10 pm | Reply

  3. Thanks for posting and helping get the word out about this! For folks who want to send an email to your legislator about this, here’s an easy webform (it even tells you if your elected officials are on the committee):

    Comment by Holly — March 16, 2009 @ 10:29 am | Reply

  4. Thanks for the info on this tragedy. There has been a screwed up logic at work here: more industrial activity= better economy = more fossil fuel combustion = high energy prices= = more attention to the environment (mainly because energy prices are so high and we feel we have the economic buffer to do so). Now that energy prices are low and the economy is static, well, you get the picture… the environment doesn’t seem as important. And to be honest if it’s a matter of someone heating their home then that does take priority. My question is: is that really the case with all of those receiving rate relief? Have those poor people reached the point where its either the relief or no heat? Or is it that the rates are crimping into some of the non-essentials? At some point we’ll need to bite the bullet and make the economic sacrifice that’s needed to get us back on track. Maybe now is not the time, I understand that, but there is going to have to be a time…… I think its pretty clear that the wealth we thought we were accumulating all through the 90s and 00s is not quite what it appeared to be and we can’t keep deceiving ourselves. The environmental economy is going to be our way out if we can stay focused on what is important and not expect things to skyrocket into a bubble. To begin with we need to bring back the concept of shareholder equity into the economic system. How can corporate executive be taking bonuses when shareholder are getting wiped out? This must be stopped. Did you notice that the market rose strongly on the day Bernard Madoff was arrested? We, the people, the investors, the pension holders, are here and we see what is happening. We will not abide by the corporate rip off of the American dream any longer. If the powers that wanna be start singing ‘this company is your company this company is my company’ then we’ll all be playing ball and we’ll be awesome. I think we may have to start thinking about some new economic leadership up in Washington since I am not convinced that these fellas are going to lay down the law as it should be. So far mostly what they’ve shown is that they know how to spend money they don’t have. I want to see a sheriff of Wall Street and I’m not sure if either Geithner or Summers fit the bill (I think what we need is another Paul Sarbanes or maybe a Bill Bradley to start cracking some whips). Well I seem to have gotten off track here, my apologies.

    Comment by A.Cherson — March 16, 2009 @ 11:00 pm | Reply

    • Thanks for the comment A. Cherson, I think a lot of what you said is right on. To the part about poor people being able to heat their homes, I think 2 problems with that logic the Governor is using are as follows. One is that these low income residents are going to have the same problem next year and the year after that if all we do is write them a check for one year. We aren’t doing them, or the middle class any favors by not addressing the long term implications of rising energy usage and rising energy rates.

      Even if providing rate relief in the form of a check were deemed a high priority, it shouldn’t come at the expense of energy efficiency. I’m not opposed to rate relief, but to take the money from the RGGI fund is a terrible idea. Cut spending somewhere else and use that to give out short term relief.

      As for the rest, like you said I think it has to be the voters that assume greater influence on the actions of both Wall Steet and the politicians. I think in order to do that we need sweeping campaign finance reform so that special interests can’t buy out leaders like they can right now.

      Comment by Matt Dernoga — March 17, 2009 @ 9:35 am | Reply

  5. Thanks for this post, I had not realized this was happening…

    Also the Alaska Gov (I won’t say her name) has decided not accept a 1/3 of state stimulus funds, including all the energy efficiency and renewable energy funds. Who needs weatherization in Alaska anyway? LOL.

    Comment by nwrenewablenews — March 26, 2009 @ 7:52 pm | Reply

    • Not too surprising from her. We’ll be glad to take them!

      Comment by Matt Dernoga — March 26, 2009 @ 9:24 pm | Reply

  6. […] It’s always nice to share some good news.  The Empire State Building is being overhauled to be far more energy efficient than it is right now.   If you want to know why energy efficiency is so important and such a win-win solution for the environment and the economy, check this out: Link […]

    Pingback by Empire State Building getting Efficiency Overhaul « The Dernogalizer — April 7, 2009 @ 12:05 am | Reply

  7. […] ICC highway he didn’t stop is going to contribute a lot of greenhouse gases, and he’s raided very dollars he talks about in his op-ed that were supposed to go to energy efficiency, but went to […]

    Pingback by Governor O’Malley’s good Op-Ed « The Dernogalizer — July 17, 2009 @ 2:01 am | Reply

  8. […] energy projects for years to come.  Another example is that last year Governor O’Malley raided $70 million dollars from our energy efficiency dollars, and gave them out in rebate checks to […]

    Pingback by The Baltimore Building and Construction Trades Council is Lying to Maryland « The Dernogalizer — March 15, 2010 @ 1:31 pm | Reply

  9. […] energy projects for years to come.  Another example is that last year Governor O’Malley raided $70 million dollars from our energy efficiency dollars, and gave them out in rebate checks to […]

    Pingback by The Baltimore Building and Construction Trades Council is Lying to Maryland « It’s Getting Hot In Here — March 15, 2010 @ 1:48 pm | Reply

  10. […] Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 1:46 am Tags: energy efficiency, Maryland Politics, RGGI I wrote last year that Governor O’Malley raided the state’s fund for energy efficiency, and diverted it […]

    Pingback by Annapolis Botches Energy Efficiency, Again « The Dernogalizer — April 12, 2010 @ 12:14 am | Reply

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