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Last November, California voters overwhelmingly supported Proposition 39 - a measure to close a corporate tax loophole and fund energy efficiency and clean energy generation programs in the state. But under a new bill introduced in the State Senate, clean energy programs get shut out of any funding on projects at public schools.
When we came out in favor of Prop 39 last Fall, we did so with the understanding - made explicit in promotional materials like the campaign ad on the left - that a portion of the funds raised would be allocated to “clean energy generation” on public schools and other public buildings. Indeed, the language of Prop 39 makes that abundantly clear:
Moneys in the fund shall be available for appropriation for the purpose of funding projects that create jobs in California improving energy efficiency and expanding clean energy generation including all of the following:
(a) Schools and Public Facilities:
(1) Public Schools: Energy efficiency retrofits and clean energy installations, along with related improvements and repairs that contribute to reduced operating costs and improved health and safety conditions, on public schools.
So we were dismayed when we read about a new bill that has been introduced by Senators De Leon and Steinberg that sets up an allocation mechanism for funding energy efficiency projects in public schools, but conspicuously omits clean energy generation. Instead, the legislation only authorizes projects that are:
(a) “Energy efficiency upgrade project” means a school facility project that reduces energy consumption and operational costs through means that include, but are not limited to, improvements to one or a combination of the following:
(2) Lighting and other system controls.
(3) Air infiltration.
(4) Water use.
(5) Windows and doors (fenestration).
(6) Heating and Cooling (HVAC).
(7) Electrical System.
Now to be sure, making improvements in all of these areas in our public schools would be a very good thing, and if Prop 39 had been marketed - and written - to only invest in such improvements, we would have still supported it.
But the language of Prop 39 is very clear and SB 39 is ignoring that clear and unambiguous mandate to also fund clean energy generation. The solar community needs to monitor Senator De Leon’s measure to make sure that the intent of the voters is honored and to see that solar is not shut out.