Governor's mansion to receive federal energy funds

Posted: Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Republican Gov. Sean Parnell backed former Gov. Sarah Palin's veto of $28.6 million in energy stimulus funding, but is willing to accept the money after the Legislature overrode the veto in an August special session.

Now that he's decided to spend the money, some of it is slated for the Governor's Mansion in Juneau to improve energy efficiency.

"That doesn't bother me, the governor's residence is an energy hog," said Sen. Dennis Egan, D-Juneau.

Egan, of course, is a previous resident of the mansion himself, as his father was Gov. Bill Egan, the state's first and fourth chief executive.

The Parnell administration has notified the federal government of how it will spend the money. The funds were provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the sometimes controversial federal stimulus bill.

The money Parnell is seeking will be divided between programs operated by the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation and the Alaska Energy Authority.

Much of the money will be leveraged by borrowing to magnify its impact, according to the Office of Management and Budget. Energy savings from the improvements would be used to pay down the debt.

That means that the $8 million allocated for schools and municipal facilities will be expanded to $32 million. While it can be spent on municipal facilities, the focus will be on schools. The same use of leverage will boost the $10 million for state buildings as well, according to the OMB.

In addition to the Governor's Mansion, other high-profile buildings that may get efficiency projects are the state-owned Atwood Building in Anchorage and the Fairbanks Regional Office Building. All the projects must be cost-effective to eventually win funding, OMB said.

Department of Transportation and Public Facilities spokesman Roger Wetherell said a full list of other buildings to get upgrades has not yet been developed.

"We'll be formulating it in the next month or so," he said.

Egan praised the selection of projects and the emphasis on weatherization and efficiency.

"Any time you do energy efficiency in any building that the people own it's a good thing for everybody," he said.

Egan said he also appreciated Parnell's following through on his commitment to apply for the federal money, despite his opposition to the veto override.

"He came back and did exactly what he said he was going to do," he said.

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