Frequently Asked Questions about the
California Clean Energy Jobs Act
(Proposition 39)


Question Topics

Other Proposition 39 Energy Commission Programs


Benchmarking

Benchmarking schools by their Energy Use Intensity (EUI), or energy cost per square foot, does not take into account factors such as weather patterns, changes in use, summer school, etc. Does an LEA need to account for these factors?

The Energy Commission recognizes that a school facility's EUI may change based on external factors. LEAs may consider some external factors when prioritizing eligible energy projects.


Can LEAs consider a site's overall energy use in addition to its EUI value when prioritizing facility improvements?

Yes. LEAs are not required to complete energy projects at sites with the highest EUI first, and can take other factors into account when deciding where to direct their funds. However, LEAs must calculate EUI values for each school receiving Proposition 39 funding.


Will benchmarking data be required in the Energy Expenditure Plan?

Yes. The benchmarking tool will be built into the Energy Expenditure Plan form.


Do all schools need to be benchmarked, or just the sites where projects are proposed?

The LEA must only include benchmarking data for school sites where it requests to expend Proposition 39 funding. LEAs are encouraged to benchmark all schools.


What does the Energy Commission mean by 'lowest energy performers'?

Sites that are low energy performers have a higher EUI value. That is, these sites use more energy than other comparable school sites.


Is EUI based on cost per square foot or is it broken down into actual electricity and gas consumed per square foot?

The benchmarking includes both energy costs per square foot and KBTU (one thousand British Thermal Units) per square foot.

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Charter Schools

What requirements must a charter school meet to apply for Proposition 39 funding?

Charter schools are eligible for funding and are subject to the requirements applicable to all LEAs seeking Proposition 39 funds. In addition, if a charter school is located in a leased facility, each energy measure for which it seeks funding must have a simple payback either within the remaining period of the "lease agreement" or the remaining period of the "charter contract term," whichever is shorter. Finally, if the owner of the leased facility is not a public entity and either 1) the facility does not have a separate meter and/or 2) the lease payment includes the utility costs, the building owner must certify all energy cost benefits will be transferred to the charter school.

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Eligibility

New Item Can an LEA (i.e. school district or county office of education) apply part, or all, of its Proposition 39 award to fund improvements in facilities that it leases to another LEA that is also seeking a Proposition 39 award? For example, if a school district leases part of its publicly owned facility to a charter school, can the school district use part or all of its Proposition 39 award for the facility the charter school is leasing?

If yes, how would the school district structure the Energy Expenditure Plan application?

This situation is not covered in the Guidelines. Yes, an LEA can use its Proposition 39 funding award on a publicly owned facility it leases to another LEA.

The Energy Commission advises LEAs in this situation to coordinate their Energy Expenditure Plan projects with each other. Each LEA is required to submit a separate Energy Expenditure Plan application (e.g. one for the tenant, one for the landlord). The LEAs should explain this coordination in the narrative section of the Energy Expenditure Plan (Form B, #4: Energy Efficiency Narrative Description).

Further clarification:

  1. No double dipping. The measures included in the landlord LEA's Energy Expenditure Plan must be separate and different than those included in the tenant LEA's Energy Expenditure Plan.

    For example, if a charter school is a tenant of another LEA and the leased facility needs lighting retrofit measures for five classrooms, the lighting measures from three classrooms may be included in the landlord LEA's Energy Expenditure Plan and the lighting measures from two classrooms may be included in the tenant LEA's Energy Expenditure Plan.
  2. No split-funded measures. Individual measures must be funded by one LEA only. For example, one heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) replacement measure cannot be included in both the landlord LEA and tenant LEA's Energy Expenditure Plan with the intent of funding a single HVAC replacement measure from both LEAs' awards. Likewise, savings calculations from one measure must be completely accounted for in one Energy Expenditure Plan and cannot be partially accounted for in two Energy Expenditure Plans.

Regarding the date of December 19, 2013 for retroactive funding of energy projects, can Proposition 39 monies be used to fund projects that were installed prior to December 19?

No. An LEA may incur expenses to implement an energy project after Dec. 19, 2013 (the date the Energy Commission adopted the Proposition 39 Guidelines), and before submitting its Energy Expenditure Plan. However, the LEA needs to be aware that it must submit an Energy Expenditure Plan and receive approval for the project before the California Department of Education will release funds. If for some reason the Energy Expenditure Plan that includes the implemented project does not comply with the Proposition 39 Guidelines and it is not approved, or approval is delayed, this will impact the amount of the award that the LEA receives.


Can Proposition 39 funds be used for solar photovoltaic projects?

Solar photovoltaic projects can be funded by Proposition 39 as long as the project (energy efficiency measures and/or clean energy installation at a school or site) meets the Savings to Investment Ratio (SIR) requirement.


Who is eligible to receive Proposition 39 funds?

California public school districts (K-12), county offices of education, charter schools, and state special schools are eligible to apply for funding. Community college districts will also receive Proposition 39 funds.


Are private schools eligible for funds?

No.


How do you define an LEA?

The definition of a Local Educational Agency (LEA) includes a county office of education, school district, charter school, and state special school.


Can the Final Guidelines offer more flexibility to fund LEAs that move or are new and do not have energy bill data in their first year to be eligible for Proposition 39 funds in year one?

No. The energy billing data is mandated in the Proposition 39 program statute. The Energy Commission must comply with this requirement.


Can LEAs use new and emerging technologies that are proven and commercially available in their Proposition 39 Energy Expenditure Plan?

Yes. The Energy Commission encourages the use of emerging technologies. The projects must meet the savings to investment ratio.


Can Proposition 39 funds be used to fund solar power purchase agreements?

Yes. Please see Appendix G in the Final Guidelines adopted December 19, 2013 regarding eligibility and the Energy Expenditure Plan Handbook (pages 26 to 29) regarding eligibility. However, most LEAs have highly attractive, cost‐effective energy efficiency measures available, and are strongly encouraged to consider energy efficiency measures first.


Are an LEA's projects eligible for funding if they start after the Final Guidelines approval date, but before their Energy Expenditure Plan is approved?

Yes. However, an LEA starting a project before approval of the Energy Expenditure Plan risks knowing whether their project will be approved.


Energy Commission staff stated in outreach meetings the goal is not to disapprove proposals, but to work with LEAs to move toward approval. However, once an application moves to the correction and resubmission docket it is a formal process. Given that a plan can be returned for resubmission, is a disapproval process even necessary?

The Energy Commission will work with LEAs regarding necessary clarifications and adjustments to Energy Expenditure Plans. If this informal process does not resolve identified problems, it may be necessary for staff to disapprove the proposed plan. If this happens, LEAs need to know what appeal options they have open to them. For this reason, the Proposition 39 Guidelines include formal reconsideration of denial and appeal processes.

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Energy Audits

Why are the ASHRAE level 2 audits not a standard requirement?

The Public Resources Code allows for energy surveys, energy audits and the use of data analytics to identify energy project opportunities and provide costs and savings information. Some complex energy efficiency measures will likely need an ASHRAE Level 2 energy audit to clearly identify project cost and estimated energy savings.


Does the Energy Commission recommend a high performance audit?

When an LEA is considering complex energy efficiency measures, the Energy Commission recommends an ASHRAE Level 2 audit.


Can Proposition 39 funds be used to fund an energy audit that occurred before the Energy Commission considers adoption of the Guidelines in December 2013?

Proposition 39 planning funds may be applied retroactively for energy audits which occurred on or after July 1, 2013.


The Guidelines list three ways an LEA can identify energy efficiency opportunities: energy survey, ASHRAE level 2 energy audit, and data analytics. Can an LEA use more than one of these tools, or must they only use one process?

LEAs may use any or all of the methods.


The Draft Guidelines stated an ASHRAE level 2 audit must include a proposed schedule for implementation of the projects. A project implementation schedule is not a requirement of an ASHRAE level 2 audit, so does it need to be included?

No. This requirement was removed from the revised Final Guidelines adopted December 19, 2013.


Can the Energy Commission clarify how long an energy audit will be relevant?

The Energy Commission will accept an energy survey, energy audit or data analytics report completed within the past five years. This has been clarified in the Final Guidelines adopted December 19, 2013.


Are data analytics allowed as a replacement for ASHRAE Level 2 audits?

The Energy Commission does not accept data analytics as a substitute for an ASHRAE level 2 audit.


Can an LEA use the Bright Schools Program to perform energy audits?

Yes. Bright Schools technical assistance is a first-come, first-served program. LEAs may use a Bright Schools energy audit to meet the energy project identification requirement of Proposition 39. The Bright Schools Program technical assistance can be tailored to the Proposition 39 program. Please see the Bright Schools website at http://www.energy.ca.gov/efficiency/brightschools/ for more information.

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Energy Manager

Can an energy manager be a private consultant?

An energy manager may be either an LEA employee or a consultant.


Is funding for energy managers only available during the first year?

For this first year, LEAs may use their Proposition 39 Energy Planning funding for an energy manager. For years 2-5 of the Proposition 39 program, 10% of each annual award is available for an energy manager. This funding may be used each year to pay for energy managers.


Is there a database of consultants LEAs or schools can use to find qualified providers for the various services including audits and benchmarking? How can providers get on that list/database?

The Energy Commission is not aware of an existing database and cannot recommend vendors or contractors.


Are LEAs limited to hiring/retaining one Energy Manager only or can an LEA have more than one Energy Manager?

An LEA may hire more than one Energy Manager. Energy Managers may be LEA staff or contractors.


Can an LEA hire an Energy Manager to head the application process and oversee the development of plans with energy planning funds?

Yes. The Final Guidelines adopted December 19, 2013, allow an LEA to use energy planning funds to hire/retain an Energy Manager.


Can an LEA use Proposition 39 funds to retain a current energy manager?

Yes.


What if an LEA's award is not enough to cover an Energy Manager position?

LEAs too small to justify hiring a dedicated Energy Manger may consider pooling their energy manager funding to share the services of an Energy Manager.


Can LEAs pool their funding for the services of an Energy Manager regionally?

Yes. The Final Guidelines adopted December 19, 2013 remove the geographic restriction for pooling funding for an Energy Manager.

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Energy Planning Reservation Option

Can Proposition 39 planning funds be used for the architectural design costs or engineering costs of a project?

No, energy planning funds under the Proposition 39 Program Assistance category can only be used for Proposition 39 program requirements such as providing the electric and gas usage/billing data, benchmarking, submitting an Energy Expenditure Plan, and program reporting.


Is there a deadline for spending Planning Funds?

Planning Funds can be spent any time during the five-year Proposition 39 program.


Can LEAs apply now for Energy Planning funding?

The first opportunity to request planning funds ended November 1, 2013. A second opportunity ended in January 2014. A third and final opportunity ended April 30, 2014.


Are planning funds part of the first year's allocation or in addition?

The planning funds are subtracted from the first year's allocation.

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Expenditure Plans

If an LEA installs energy projects and uses funding sources other than its Proposition 39 award, would these projects be subject to the Proposition 39 Guidelines? Would the LEA have to submit an Energy Expenditure Plan for Energy Commission approval?

An LEA choosing to fund an energy project without using Proposition 39 award dollars is not subject to the Proposition 39 Guidelines and therefore not required to submit an Energy Expenditure Plan for Energy Commission approval. The Guidelines only apply to energy projects funded by Proposition 39 awards.


When is the deadline for submitting our Energy Expenditure Plan for year one funding?

The final deadline to submit an Energy Expenditure Plan for the Proposition 39 program for years one-five is June 30, 2018.


Do we have to use the Energy Commission's calculator tool or can we use our own calculations to fill out an Energy Expenditure Plan?

The Energy Commission's calculator tool is not a required part of the Energy Expenditure Plan. If an LEA does not use the calculator tool, it will need to submit other documentation of energy savings calculations with the Energy Expenditure Plan (i.e. an ASHRAE level 2 audit).


Can LEAs submit multiple energy projects in a single Energy Expenditure Plan?

Yes.


Will a standard project submittal form (Energy Expenditure Plan form) be available?

Yes, the forms are now available on the Energy Commission Proposition 39 web page.


Will the project application differ from the expenditure plan or are they one and the same?

The Energy Expenditure Plan is the application for Proposition 39 funds and may include from one to multiple energy projects.


Can smaller LEAs join together to pool their applications?

Proposition 39 funding will only be awarded directly to each LEA for planning and approved Energy Expenditure Plans. LEAs may work group together to manage and implement their Proposition 39 funds.

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General Funding Questions

Does a local education agency's (LEA's) Proposition 39 award funding for a year rollover from one year to the next if not expended in that year?

Yes.


Can an LEA save each annual award and apply it to the project in year 5 or is it required to spend the funds the year it is awarded?

There is no requirement to spend the funding in the fiscal year it is awarded; however, the Energy Commission encourages LEAs not to wait until the end of the program so they can realize energy savings as soon as possible.


If a school submits a 5-year plan, will a full five years award amount be allocated in the first year?

No. Tier 1&2 LEAs can request funding in 2-year "bundles", but no other advanced funding will be awarded.


Are these state or federal fund grants?

Proposition 39 is state funded.


Is there a cost sharing requirement for participating schools or can the whole project be paid by Proposition 39 funding?

There is no cost sharing requirement for these funds and the whole project can be funded by Proposition 39. The Energy Commission encourages LEAs to leverage funds, when available.


The Proposition 39 draft Guidelines include a list of funding sources that can be used to leverage Proposition 39 funds. Can private investment - loans, leases, etc. - also be used to leverage Proposition 39 funds, as is common in ESCO projects?

Yes


Can LEAs implement energy savings projects to both school sites and administrative offices? County Offices of Education and Districts need funding for administrative facilities also.

Yes, Proposition 39 funding is not just for classrooms. Energy projects can also be for administrative offices and other non-classroom school facilities. Please note: County Offices of Education are included in the definition of an "LEA" and therefore receive a direct Proposition 39 award, which may be use as described here.


Can Proposition 39 funding be used for "new" construction by school districts?

No. Proposition 39 funding can only be used for existing buildings, not new construction.


The Proposition 39 Guidelines state Local Educational Agencies (LEA) receiving an award more than $1 million (Tier 4) must spend 50% of the funds on projects larger than $250,000. Can a large project be done on more than one school?

No. Each large project (more than $250,000) must be implemented at a single school site. The Final Proposition 39 Guidelines adopted on December 19, 2013 reflect this clarification.


Where are award allocation amounts for year one posted?

The California Department of Education (CDE) has posted the Proposition 39 award allocations for Fiscal Year 2013-14 at: http://www.cde.ca.gov/fg/fo/r14/prop39cceja13result.asp


Can an LEA 'unbundle' its year one and year two funds?

No. Once an LEA with 1,000 or fewer average daily attendance elects to bundle its funding for two years, it cannot withdraw the request. This is because CDE calculates the annual Proposition 39 award allocations for all LEAs after the two-year request closing date. Any change to one LEA award would impact all other LEAs.


Can an LEA use in-house staff to install Proposition 39 award-funded projects?

Yes. In-house labor is allowed.


Is there a "Buy American" requirement for Proposition 39?

No, buy American is not specified in Proposition 39 statute.


How will LEAs be notified of their grant amount?

The CDE and the California Energy Commission will post the funding list by LEA online once the calculations are complete.


When will the CDE release the first Proposition 39 funds approved by the Energy Commission Energy Expenditure Plan projects?

The earliest the CDE will be able to release award funds will be February 2014. Approved energy expenditure award funds will be processed in batches, so actual payments will be contingent on the volume of expenditure plans submitted and approved.


What does it mean when a company offers a "Proposition 39-certified energy product or service?"

The Energy Commission has not authorized or endorsed any products or services as "Proposition 39-certified." The Energy Commission does not recognize "Proposition 39-certified" as an official certification or designation.

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Payback Requirement

New Item What short payback energy efficiency projects are possible for LEAs?

Below are some energy efficiency projects that typically have short payback periods.

  • Lighting projects with approximately 2-year payback
    1. Replace incandescent light with compact fluorescent or light-emitting diode (LED) light
    2. Convert incandescent/compact fluorescent (CFL) exit sign to LED exit sign
    3. Replace 32 watt T8 fluorescent lamp with 28 watt T8 fluorescent lamp
  • Lighting projects with 4 years or less payback
    1. Convert T12 fluorescent lamp to T8 fluorescent lamp with electronic ballast or LED lamp
    2. Install occupancy control for intermittently occupied rooms
  • HVAC projects with approximately 2-year payback
    1. Replace manual thermostat with programmable thermostat
  • Plug Load projects with approximately 2-year payback
    1. Install vending machine occupancy control

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Retroactive Funding

New Item Please clarify the No Retroactive Funding of Projects Section of the Guidelines. It states that, "Proposition 39 funding may be used only to pay for eligible energy projects installed on or after the date guidelines are approved at an Energy Commission business meeting." It also says, "If eligible energy projects are implemented prior to the Proposition 39 Guidelines approval date, those eligible energy projects are not eligible for retroactive Proposition 39 funding. Can you please define "installed" or "implemented" as referenced?

Eligible energy projects installed (e.g. equipment placed in position or connected for service or use) prior to the Proposition 39 Guidelines approval date of December 19, 2013 are not eligible for retroactive funding.

However, if an LEA incurred costs for an eligible energy project but the equipment was not installed (e.g. equipment placed in position or connected for service or use) prior to December 19, 2013, the eligible energy project can be considered for Proposition 39 retroactive funding with two conditions.

  • First, in calculating the Savings to Investment Ratio (SIR), the total project cost of the eligible energy project must include all project cost, including the costs incurred prior to the Proposition 39 Guidelines approval date of December 19, 2013.
  • Second, the Proposition 39 program funding award may only be used for project costs incurred subsequent to December 19, 2013. Proposition 39 program awards cannot be used to reimburse project cost incurred prior to the Proposition 39 Guidelines approval date of December 19, 2013.

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Sole Source

Does "no sole source" apply to Proposition 39 funding?

Yes. Public Resources Code Section 26235 (c) states community colleges and LEAs shall not use a sole source process to award funds. Community colleges and LEAs may use the best value criteria defined in Public Contract Code Section 20133(c)(1).

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Utility Data

Does the utility data need to include time-of-use interval data?

The Energy Commission is currently working with the state's utilities to specify the data parameters it will collect from them at the end of each calendar year.


Can utility data coincide with a fiscal year instead of an arbitrary timeline?

Yes, for example, if the LEA submits its first Energy Expenditure Plan in fiscal year 2013-2014, it will submit the 12 months of utility usage data from fiscal year July 1, 2012-June 30, 2013.


How can LEAs submit their utility information? Does the Energy Commission have a utility release form?

The Energy Commission has posted a Proposition 39 program utility data release authorization form at: http://www.energy.ca.gov/efficiency/proposition39/index.html. When an LEA uses the Energy Commission Proposition 39 program utility data release authorization form, it will only have to sign the form one time when it submits the first Energy Expenditure Plan. LEAs may also choose to use their utility's standard data release form. If an LEA uses the utility's form it will need to ensure: 1) there are no claims the data is confidential; 2) the correct data fields are requested; and 3) the authorization will remain effective for the release of data through 2023 (three years after the last date LEAs may expend their Proposition 39 award funds).

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Other Proposition 39 Energy Commission Programs

ECAA-Ed Loans (0% interest)

New Item For privately owned leased facilities, can you please clarify the requirement in the ECAA-Ed Program Opportunity Notice (Attachment 5) that states:

"If the LEA borrower in a privately owned leased facility wants to fund a project with a payback that goes beyond the charter term, and the LEA has not renewed its charter contract term at least once prior to applying, the borrower must provide one of the following:

  • A loan guarantee signed by the landlord, in a form acceptable to the Energy Commission

    or
  • A letter of credit from a financial institution, in a form acceptable to the Energy Commission"

Our charter school leases a privately owned building. Our school is in good standing and has had our charter term renewed in the past. Can we consider energy measures with a simple payback beyond the remaining charter term?

There are two situations that apply:

  • Five or more years, with successful charter renewal
    This situation is not covered in the ECAA-Ed Program Opportunity Notice to address the question above. Yes, a charter school that leases a privately owned building that has been in business in good standing for more than five years and has successfully renewed its charter contract term may apply for a loan for a project with payback that goes beyond the remaining charter term.
    Keep in mind that the loan term cannot exceed the remaining term on the lease.
    (See the ECAA-Ed Program Loan Notice page 2.)
  • Less than five years, with no charter renewal
    The ECAA-Ed Program Opportunity Notice covers the situation where a charter school that leases a privately owned building has been in business in good standing for five years or less but has not renewed its charter term prior to applying for a loan, and wants to fund a project with a payback beyond the remaining charter term. In this case, the borrower must provide one of the following:
    • A loan guarantee signed by the landlord, in a form acceptable to the Energy Commission

      or
    • A letter of credit from a financial institution, in a form acceptable to the Energy Commission.
      Keep in mind that the loan term cannot exceed the remaining term on the lease.
      (See the ECAA-Ed Program Loan Notice page 2.)

New Item For publicly-owned leased facilities, can you please clarify the requirement in the ECAA-Ed Program Opportunity Notice (Attachment 5) that states:

"An LEA borrower in a publicly-owned leased facility that has been in business in good standing for five or more years may apply for a loan for a project with payback that goes beyond the charter term."

Our charter school is in good standing and in our first charter term. We lease a facility from a public LEA. We have not yet had our charter term renewed. Can we consider energy measures with a simple payback beyond the remaining charter term?

There are two situations that apply:

  • Five or More Years, with successful Charter Renewal
    The ECAA-Ed Program Opportunity Notice covers the situation where a charter school in a publicly owned leased facility has been in business in good standing for five or more years with a successful charter renewal. In this case, the charter school may apply for a loan for a project with payback beyond the remaining charter term.
    Keep in mind that the loan term cannot exceed the remaining term on the lease.
    (See the ECAA-Ed Program Loan Notice page 2.)
  • Less than five years, with no charter renewal
    This situation is not covered in the ECAA-ED Program Opportunity Notice to address the question above:

    If the charter school is in good standing in the first charter term and wants to fund a project with a payback beyond the remaining charter term, the charter school applicant must submit a letter from the public LEA landlord (school site host) stating the following: If the charter school borrower vacates the LEA's facility within the term of the Energy Commission loan, the borrower will assign the loan agreement to the LEA landlord. The LEA landlord will accept assignment of the loan agreement and will agree to fulfill the remaining repayment and other obligations on the loan until the end of the term.
    Keep in mind that the loan term cannot exceed the remaining term on the lease.
    (See the ECAA-Ed Program Loan Notice page 2.)

Does an application for 0% ECAA-Ed funds require demonstration that funding was not available through other internal or external funding sources?

No. This is not an ECAA-Ed requirement.


What is the procedure to apply for ECAA-Ed funding?

Please visit the ECAA website, http://www.energy.ca.gov/efficiency/financing/, for the ECAA-Ed application and requirements.


What is the repayment method for ECAA-Ed?

The Energy Commission provides borrowers an estimated amortization schedule with the approved loan documents. Loan repayments are made twice a year, in December and June.

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See Approved Energy Expenditure Plans


See Approved ECAA-Ed (0%) Loans


More Information

Questions?


Ask the Proposition 39 Hotline:

  • Toll-free for those in California: 855-380-8722
  • Toll line for those out of state: 916-653-0392

OR, e-mail your questions to:


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