Next Solyndra scandal? Audit criticizes smart grid stimulus program
By Jesse Berst
A newly released audit from the Energy Department's Inspector General (IG) says millions of federal dollars slated for smart grid improvements were mismanaged. (See the end of the story to download a PDF copy of the audit).
The Smart Grid Demonstration Program received nearly $700 million in funding through the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The IG looked at 11 projects that represented $279 million of that total, plus $10 million in other funds. Of that $289 million, $12.3 million in reimbursements were found to lack proper documentation. In one case, a recipient received federal money from two different sources for the same program, according to the report.
The IG seeks significant improvements lest the program fail to meet its objectives, citing "weaknesses in reimbursement requests, cost-share contributions, and coordination efforts with another Department program."
For instance, the Department had not always ensured recipients contributed their agreed-upon share of project costs.
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Jesse Berst is the founder and chief analyst of Smart Grid News.com, the industry's oldest and largest smart grid site. A frequent keynoter at industry events in the U.S. and abroad, he also serves on advisory committees for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Institute for Electric Efficiency. He often provides strategic consulting to large corporations and venture-backed startups. He is a member of the advisory boards of GridGlo and Calico Energy Services.