The California Energy Commission is helping schools get much-needed energy efficiency funding from the California Clean Energy Jobs Act (Prop. 39).
Approved by voters in 2012, Prop. 39 changes how the state collects corporate income taxes and provides millions of dollars annually to improve energy efficiency at California schools. Energy costs savings resulting from the projects can be reinvested back into schools for educational purposes. The projects will also help create clean energy jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Over the next five years, Prop. 39 will transfer an estimated $2.5 billion in new revenues to create clean energy jobs and provide funding to retrofit projects for local educational agencies (LEAs) and community colleges. LEAs include California's K-12 public schools, charter schools, county offices of education, and state special schools. According to the statute, up to $550 million may be available to be appropriated every year through fiscal year 2017-2018.
For the fiscal year 2013-14, the Legislature appropriated: $381 million to LEAs; $47 million to California community college districts; $28 million to the Energy Commission for a low- and no-interest revolving loan program and technical assistance; and $3 million to the California Workforce Investment Board. Governor Brown's 2013-14 Budget Act also appropriated $5 million to the California Conservation Corps. Amounts received by the LEAs varies based on a formula of average daily attendance and the number of students eligible to receive free and reduced-priced meals in the prior year. Annual funding ranges from $15,000 up to tens of millions of dollars per school district.
As schools and community colleges begin identifying energy needs, Energy Commission staff is explaining the preliminary guidelines and funding allocations for eligible LEAs. Five public meetings and three webinars were held recently to collect public comment on draft guidelines. The Energy Commission plans to consider approving the final program implementation guidelines at its December 19 business meeting.