Let’s Shade Some Schools
California voters passed Proposition 39 in 2012 by a 60% margin in order to eliminate a corporate tax loophole and provide $550 million each year over the next five years for energy efficiency projects throughout the state.
Flash forward to the present. The California Energy Commission has adopted Proposition 39 implementation guidelines, and is ready to roll out nearly $430 million to schools and community colleges to support energy efficiency upgrades that range from solar panels to HVAC improvements to, yes it is true, tree planting projects that support energy conservation.
This is a big win for the urban forestry community and the California ReLeaf Network, whose members are eligible partners to schools on this effort through a competitive bid process. In Sacramento, our advocacy work on this issue is done, and has met with success. Now it’s up to local urban forestry groups to bring the green home through proactive communication with the schools and community colleges.
The Energy Commission is currently working on multiple programmatic elements to fully launch the California Clean Energy Jobs Act (Proposition 39) by the end of January 2014. The CEC will begin accepting energy expenditure plan proposal from schools shortly thereafter. The State Superintendent of Public Instruction is scheduled to begin issuing awards between February and June.
Now is the time to bring your tree planting proposal to your local school district or community college. If they are preparing an energy expenditure plan proposal, work with them to get your tree-planting project in the mix. If they are not pursuing Proposition 39 funding, or unaware of the program, educate them.
An Energy Expenditure Plan Handbook is being created by the CEC to provide step-by-step directions for Local Educational Agencies (AKA schools) to complete and submit the Energy Expenditure Plan application in order to receive Proposition 39 award funds. In addition, project calculators have been developed for LEAs to conduct estimated energy savings calculations. The calculated numbers can be inserted into Energy Expenditure Plans for each school or site within an LEA where energy projects will be installed.
These items and more will be made available on the Energy Commission’s Proposition 39 website at www.energy.ca.gov/efficiency/proposition39. Notification of program launch will go to all LEAs and the Energy Commission’s Proposition 39 list serve. In addition, the Energy Commission will schedule webinars and work with education-related organizations to schedule training seminars on the Energy Expenditure Plan process.
Get involved now. There is five-year window of opportunity, with billions of dollars on the table. This is the time to demonstrate that urban trees are natural conduits for energy conservation, and will provide multiple co-benefits in the years and decades to come.