LITTLE ROCK — Unused solar panels installed two years ago outside the state library with $550,000 in federal stimulus are featured in a national conservative group's online ad campaign to expose government waste.
LITTLE ROCK — Unused solar panels installed two years ago outside the state library with $550,000 in federal stimulus are featured in a national conservative group’s online ad campaign to expose government waste.
The advertisement released Tuesday, targeting users of Facebook, Twitter and Google+, is the first of 15 that the Americans for Prosperity Foundation plans to release over the next few months to detail what it sees as wasteful spending by both state and federal governments, said Teresa Oelke, the group’s Arkansas director.
“This is an Arkansas specific project that we came up with,” Oelke said, adding that similar ads are running in other states.
“We felt after the legislative session that there is a need for Arkansans to see what spending is occurring in Arkansas, just generally an information piece,.” she said. “Hard working taxpayers don’t like watching their money go down the drain on show-boat ‘green energy’ projects.”
The $550,000 solar panels, a key component of the new State Library’s environment-friendly character, were expected to generate as much as 3 percent of the building’s energy needs. However, they have yet to be turned on because of a legal dispute between Arkansas Tech University and Entergy Arkansas, which is the energy provider for the State Library.
In 2009, Arkansas Tech was renovating a dormitory and Entergy, which owns and maintains electrical equipment on campus, insisted the university either sign an agreement making Tech liable for any injuries related to the equipment or purchase the equipment.
Tech signed the agreement but later filed a complaint with the state Puplic Service Commission, arguing the state constitution prohibits the state, including higher education institutions, from entering into an indemnification agreement with a corporation.
The PSC, after a hearing, ruled in Tech’s favor, saying the state university could not be indemnified. The state Court of of Appeals later upheld the PSC, ruling it was unconstitutional to require a state entity to sign such an agreement.
The state Supreme Court declined Entergy’s petition to review the case and referred it back to the PSC, which is considering whether to strike the indemnification rule altogether in light of regulatory and court rulings.
Oelke said Tuesday that the unused solar panels are “just the latest example of how the federal and state government wastes taxpayer dollars on politically-correct green energy projects that serve ideological policy goals rather than real taxpayer needs.”
Arkansas received $3.54 billion in federal stimulus money and about $3.25 billion has been spent, according to recover.arkansas.gov.
Stimulus funds have been spent on state education, highways, housing and community development, energy and weatherization, natural resources, the state Department of Human Services, public safety, public transportation and environmental programs.