July 12, 2012
SEC Participates in a White House Roundtable on Efficiency and Schools
By Anna Ferrera, Executive Director, SEC
On July 9, 2012, SEC was invited by the Governor’s Office to participate in a White House Roundtable on Schools and Energy Efficiency with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at the Cal EPA in Sacramento.
The roundtable was attended by selected representatives from school and energy organizations and consultants in this area. Representatives from state government, namely the California Department of Education (CDE), the State Allocation Board, the Office of Public School Construction, California Energy Commission and the Legislature were also in attendance.
Matthew Bogoshian of the U.S. EPA led the discussion which he said was part of a series of federally-sponsored roundtables on priority issues for the Administration. Bogoshian wanted feedback, but also wanted to assist the State in developing a strategy or pathway for schools in this area.
Although it was billed as a discussion on energy efficiency and schools, the discussion quickly incorporated renewable generation as something schools should be moving toward at a time when budgets are constrained. Still, others wanted to see a broader discussion of climate change and meeting AB 32 goals related to lowering the state’s carbon footprint, included as part of the agenda for schools.
School representatives quickly pointed out that at this time of severe budget constraints, schools are not receiving the funding necessary to maintain the facilities they have now and are receiving inadequate funding to build or modernize classrooms appropriate for a world-class workforce. There is also no state school bond on the horizon so funding is a huge challenge.
Others asked that if dollars were made available for energy school projects, that it stand alone, that is, independent of any government funding process for schools. Revolving loan programs that would be paid back through savings would provide a continued source of funding for schools were also discussed.
The CEC reported that the Bright Schools Program that has provided technical assistance to schools and low interest loans was being revived in the near future. About $25 million would be available in loans to schools.
Mr. Bogoshian was also asked to carry the message back to the White House that the President’s support for an extension of federal bonding authority for schools through the Qualified School Construction Bond (QSCB) and Qualified Zone Academy Bond (QZAB) programs, currently being considered by Congress, would be very important.
In wrapping up the discussion, which lasted almost two hours, the Governor’s staff invited a smaller group, including SEC, to continue the discussion with the Governor’s Office in the weeks to come. The goal is to advise the Governor’s office on what tools would be most helpful to schools that will assist them in implementing energy efficiency systems.
We will keep you posted on these discussions.
School Energy Coalition