Fed Is No Longer Asking Kids To Dress Up As Solar Panels and Windmills

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Federal officials at the Department of Energy (DOE) are no longer asking kids to dress up as solar panels and wind turbines for Halloween.

Last year the DOE’s official website included instructions on how kids can dress up as solar panels, wind turbines, “energy vampires,” particle accelerators, or Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz. The DOE also encouraged kids to carve energy themed designs into their Jack O’Lanterns, including compact fluorescent lamps, electrical cars, windmills, solar panels, and more.

“You won’t produce electricity, but at least you’ll generate conversations wherever you go,” claimed the DOE’s website, before suggesting that kids strap inflatable ankle floats or inner tubes to their feet to dress up as offshore wind turbines.

The programs were part of the DOE’s Twitter outreach efforts, operating under the hashtag Energyween. But the agency doesn’t seem to be pushing the program again this year after The Daily Caller News Foundation examined it last October, and the DOE hasn’t promoted the hashtag nearly as much.

When asked by The DCNF why the agency isn’t promoting energy-themed costumes and pumpkin carving this year, a DOE spokesperson said “Because of the massive gains in energy efficiency made under the Obama administration, we know we can do more with less.” The spokesperson, who remained anonymous, then sent the DCNF a link to a Saturday Night Live clip.

So far, mostly “green” energy companies have used the Energyween hashtag. A search by TheDCNF revealed that, even a year later, no child has suffered the humiliation of actually dressing up as a solar panel, a wind turbine, or any other DOE costume suggestions.

One of the few additions to the hashtag was a verified Twitter account that represents “the people of America’s oil and natural gas industry.” They encourage folks to carve pumpkins in the shape of oil and natural gas.

In 2015, the DOE Office of Public Affairs requested a budget of  $3.43 million.

According to a search of federal pay records by theDCNF, in 2014 the lowest salary in DOE Public Affairs was $52,146 while the highest was $138,136. Marissa Newhall, who wrote the article about “energy themed” Jack O’Lanterns, earned a salary of $92,922 in 2014.

When TheDCNF contacted the DOE about the program last year, spokesperson Eben Burnham-Snyder responded to a request for comment by stating that Energyween had received “more treats than tricks.”

On why the DOE didn’t suggest  kids dress up as nuclear reactors or natural gas, Burnham-Snyder said, “Nuclear energy and natural gas are more mature technologies, so we thought those might be better costumes for adults.”

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