Draft spending guidelines on energy funds readied

Draft spending guidelines on energy funds readied

(Calif.) Even as school districts this week are receiving the first round of state funding to make facilities more energy-efficient, the agency overseeing the program is preparing proposed guidelines for regulating how the money can be used.

Stakeholders – which include school districts, building contractors and utility companies – have for the past several months been meeting with officials from the California Energy Commission to hammer out details of the implementation guidelines for Proposition 39, also known as the California Clean Energy Jobs Act

The CEC released late last week a summary of major changes – based on public input – to the proposed guidelines, expected to be approved at the commission’s Dec. 19 meeting.

Also last week, the California Department of Education, which is administering the Proposition 39 program, sent to school districts statewide more than $106 million to help them begin planning their new energy efficiency projects.

“Energy efficiency projects in our schools will help create jobs, protect our environment, save money, and create teachable moments for students all at the same time,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said in a statement. “With Proposition 39, voters made it clear that they see support for education and the environment – and the intersection of the two – as a direct investment in the future of California.”

Last November, voters approved Proposition 39, which closed a tax loophole on out-of-state corporations and directed that the new revenues be used by local educational agencies to support energy efficiency and alternative energy projects – along with related improvements and repairs that contribute to reduced operating costs and improved health and safety conditions in public schools.

Proposition 39 will direct about $2.5 billion in new revenues over five years to fund projects by California’s K-12 public schools, charter schools, county offices of education and community colleges.

Specific requirements for how the funds are to be allocated are outlined in Senate Bill 73, which also serves as the authorizing template for the CEC’s regulatory guidelines.

K-12 districts will receive a total of $381 million this first year, with 85 percent of the appropriation being allocated based on 2012–13 average daily attendance and 15 percent based on 2012–13 eligibility for free and reduced-price meals.

Community Colleges will receive $48 million this year.

The initiative allocates $28 million to the CEC’s State Energy Conservation Account for no- and low-interest loans for eligible projects, and technical assistance. It also provides $5 million to the California Conservation Corps and $3 million for competitive grants to community based-organizations – all for workforce training and development.

The CEC, in consultation with the Department of Education, the Community College Chancellors Office and the Public Utilities Commission, is responsible for developing guidelines for contracts, including estimates for energy benefits, cost assumptions for energy savings, benchmarks, energy surveys and audits, and cost-effectiveness determinations.

The first round of funding is specifically dedicated to planning, and the complete list of recipients and amounts can be found on the California Department of Education Web site.

There will be a second application period for planning funds early next year. For additional details, visit the California Department of Education or the California Energy Commission.