On November 6, 2012 Proposition 39 was officially passed allowing the closing of a corporate loophole which was costing the state $1 billion a year; it allowed the state $2.5 billion to invest in energy reducing projects for California public schools and the changes are currently being implemented at Fullerton College.
The major change that is already taking place on campus and will continue to develop over the next year is that the fluorescent lights in the classrooms are being replaced with LED lights which save money, energy and disperse light around the classroom more effectively. The beginning of the project started last year but is increasing as the school is hiring independent labor.
Last October, Gov. Brown spoke to John Marshall High School in the L.A. Unified School District about the proposition’s effects on public schools.
“Two years ago, voters closed a flagrant tax loophole and sent hundreds of millions of dollars to California schools with passage of Proposition 39,” Brown said. “Today, with these funds, schools are starting to repair inefficient heating and air conditioning systems, replace old windows and install new lighting, and saving money through energy efficiency.”
The Department of Education described the proposition 39, also known as the Clean Energy Jobs Act, as a bill that would “allocate revenue to local education 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.”
The changes that Proposition 39 has made to corporate income taxes is providing $550 million annually from the general fund to the Clean Energy Job Creation Fund for five fiscal years starting with the 2013-14 fiscal year. On June 27, 2013, Gov. Brown approved Senate Bill 73 which worked out the details of providing funds to California’s schools as well as created guidelines to make sure the changes implemented by the proposition would save the amount of money and energy that was intended.
The Energy Commission worked with the Department of Education along with several other agencies including the Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, the Department of Finance, the Public Utilities Commission, the Workforce Investment Board and the Conservation Corps to implement the Clean Energy Jobs Act.
The fluorescent lights that are still in many of the classrooms have a T8 fluorescent tube that runs using a ballast, which is needed to limit the amount of current in a electric circuit. The new LED lights use line voltage, which do not require a ballast, yet produce a similar amount of light and shine light around the classroom more evenly.
The most striking difference between the two lights however is the amount of electricity they use. A fluorescent light burns between 38 and 39 watts of power, while an LED light burns between eight and nine watts of power. That is about a 70 percent in energy savings, which in turn saves a lot of money.
Larry Lara, Director of Campus Facilities at Fullerton College, provided further comments on the effects of this proposition.
“Safety is always our number one priority,” Lara insists. “If a light burns out in the parking lot we must replace it immediately.”
While managing the project of replacing the old fluorescent lights with the new LED lights, he is still responsible for making sure burnt out lights are replaced, whether in the parking lot or inside buildings.
The Energy Commission is working to provide workshops where the public can offer their feedback. If you have some feedback to offer to the Energy Commission then keep up to date at energy.ca.gov/calendar for a workshop coming to a city near you.