A Nice FOI story Idea: Light Bills!

Here is a nice little FOI-driven story

Night after night, year after year, this nightside reporter observed lights left on in federal government buildings. So I decided to see just how much taxpayers were spending to keep empty buildings illuminated.

For several months, we kept track of the lights left on in a dozen federal buildings, including the Departments of Commerce, Agriculture, Transportation and Energy always checking after 10 p.m., each on at least six occasions.

“Turn the lights off. That’s what I do anyway. That’s how I save money,” said one visitor from North Dakota.

Just how much are the federal agencies electricity bills costing you, the taxpayer? First, using the Freedom of Information Act, we requested six months of utility bills for the headquarters buildings of more than a dozen agencies. Then, we asked taxpayers to estimate the price of one month in one building.

‘Whew. $3,000 a month?” one woman estimated.

“$5,000 a month?” guessed a young man from New Jersey.

“Monthly? $5-10,000,” said a man from Virginia.

The low end is about $200,000 a month. The high end more than a million. One month’s electricity bill at the Department of Labor topped a MILLION dollars. That was a bill paid in July of last year. The month before, the department paid a bill of nearly $700,000. And utility costs of that magnitude are not unusual.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: