CALCTP Advances Bright Options for Proposition 39

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Recently, Sean Reynolds, of Energy Independence, spoke with Bernie Kotlier, co-founder and co-chair of the California Advanced Lighting Control Training Program (CALCTP) ], about his views regarding the benefits and limitations of California's Proposition 39.

As this work becomes more and more sophisticated and complicated,” Kotlier says, “we will need more sophisticated contractors to do the complicated work.

In 2012, California voters overwhelmingly approved the Clean Energy Jobs Act, Proposition 39, providing funding for energy efficient public projects and clean energy jobs and, this past summer, Governor Jerry Brown and California policy makers worked out the details to distribute the estimated $2.5 billion over the next five years.

The proposition provides for approximately $550 million a year over the next five years to California K-14 schools in order to improve energy efficiency. The increased revenue results from limiting the way out-of-state corporations operating in California calculate their tax liability making them more in line with other California based companies. “That raises about $1.1 billion a year and half of that will go to California schools,” Kotlier says. However, he added that, “The proposition was not terribly prescriptive,” leaving a lot of work to be done by Governor Brown and the legislature. He says implementation is one of the concerns he has with the bill and, more importantly, how well the money will be spent. Kotlier raised the question, “Will it actually save and produce energy in the way people hoped it will?”

State Assembly Bill 1565, passed by voters last year, may offer some help, Kotlier says. Beginning with contracts awarded on or after January 1, 2014, California law now requires districts’ governing boards to adopt new procedures to prequalify contracting bidders for public projects. Kotlier says, AB 1565 will make sure that contractors are proficient in their skills, have the requisite experience, and have the financial wherewithal to be there and not disappear while the job is in process, because sometimes schools don’t know who to choose, or they use a contractor that has an “inside tact.” Other times, he says, they simply go with the lowest bid, and, with emerging energy efficient technology, that presents a problem. “As this work becomes more and more sophisticated and complicated,” Kotlier says, “we need more sophisticated contractors to do the complicated work.”

Kotlier explains that language in Prop 39 also requires a loading order mandating energy efficiency upgrades and retrofits before introducing renewable technologies like photovoltaic panels. He says that employing energy efficiency first follows common sense, sealing a building’s energy envelope before introducing upgraded HVAC systems, for example. “It’s a faster payback and a better return on investment, too,” he says. Since lighting is one of Kotlier’s personal fields of expertise, he was eager to explain how the industry could participate, and how schools will benefit from well-maintained professionally installed lighting controls. Kotlier is the co-founder of CALCTP, a statewide nonprofit, public/private partnership initiative to increase the effectiveness, efficiency and use of lighting controls in commercial and institutional facilities. He says they have tried to make the choices offered to schools by Prop 39 simple by following the loading order, updating energy efficiency first, and then making sure there are well-trained contractors to perform the work. Lighting controls are highly technical, he says. Schools can save a significant amount of money, but only if the systems are well maintained and properly installed. If a school wants to find a highly trained contractor, he says, they can go to the website, and find a list of contractors in the state who have been through training and are certified in lighting controls. This is important in light of California law Title 24, he says, because it mandates not only increased energy efficiency in lighting and HVAC systems, but also calls for acceptance testing to verify the competency of these systems before they are approved.

Schools may want to wait for a few months, in Kotlier’s opinion, before choosing a specific game plan to utilize Prop 39 funds because not all the details are finalized. However, the sooner they implement these new systems the sooner they will start to save money.

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Dwight Cromie

Bill Friedl
Altek Media Group
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