The new director of the Colorado Energy Office started his job this week, raising concerns among some lawmakers at the Capitol.
Last month, Gov. Hickenlooper appointed Jeff Ackermann as the new director of the Colorado Energy Office. Ackermann worked under Gov. Bill Ritter and Tom Plant, whose mismanagement of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars as director of what was then called the Governor’s Energy Office earned the office a scathing audit report earlier this year.
“There’s concern we’re moving in the wrong direction,” said state Rep. Dan Nordberg, a Republican from Colorado Springs who sits on the Legislative Audit Committee. “Mr. Ackermann worked in the energy office while it spent millions of taxpayer dollars without any oversight. I’m concerned his appointment doesn’t move us forward.”
In the report released earlier this year, the auditor’s office found “significant deficiencies” with the energy office’s record keeping practices. The report showed that the energy office spent $252 million between 2007 and 2012 but never kept a comprehensive annual budget for any of its 34 spending programs, meaning the office could not determine the cost-effectiveness for hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.
“We worked hard last session and in a bipartisan manner to rebuild this office and transform its mission to pursue an all-of-the-above energy development strategy,” said Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, another member of the audit committee. “I am disappointed in the selection as well as the process for how Mr. Ackermann was vetted for this job.”
Last year, a Republican bill sponsored by Rep. Jon Becker, R-Fort Morgan, renamed the Governor’s Energy Office to the Colorado Energy Office and directed it to pursue a balanced energy portfolio for Colorado’s energy future. This shift in focus for the office marked a distinct departure from the role the office played under the Ritter Administration, which strayed away from traditional energy resources and pursued a development strategy aggressively focused on renewable energy sources.