Passage of Prop 39 in California Creates Clean Energy Job Fund, Benefits Conservation Corps & YouthBuild

A California Conservation Corps Energy Smart Program Corpsmember uses an iPhone to complete an energy audit.

Voters agree to close corporate tax loophole and establish $1 billion fund. Half of new revenue will be used to make public buildings more energy efficient, while also supporting job training programs including Conservation Corps and YouthBuild.

On Tuesday California voters opted to close a corporate tax loophole and effectively canceled incentives for out-of-state companies to keep their facilities and jobs outside California. The loophole had allowed companies to avoid paying taxes. Now the new revenue that is generated will instead be used to establish a Clean Energy Job Creation Fund. Sixty percent of California voters approved the measure.

Prop 39 is also known as the Clean Energy Jobs Act. Phillip Bump of Grist explains that:

"As described in the proposition’s ballot language, money from the fund will be used to “create jobs in California improving energy efficiency and expanding clean energy generation” by focusing on retrofits to schools and other public buildings. Additional funds will go to job training programs and Property Assessed Clean Energy programs in public-private partnerships.

California’s direct-democracy proposition format is an often clunky, always piecemeal way of addressing problems. But in this case, at least, the system worked effectively: curbing a widely criticized loophole for the benefit of the state and dedicated investment in the sorts of green improvements that will continue to pay off for the state over the long run."

David Muraki, Director of the California Conservation Corps, said that the fund would "maximize energy savings and maximize jobs." He noted that this new initiative will be much like the American Recovery and Investment Act funded EnergySmart Job program, and will be likely to expand the number of jobs for Corpsmembers with the added bonus of it leading to a well-established career path for those Corpsmembers. The California Conservation Corps, YouthBuild, and local Corps were specifically referred to as conduits for implementing the programs in the ballot measure's language.

"It's pretty exciting for the California Conservation Corps, the local Corps, YouthBuild, and other organizations. Job training and education will be integrated and we have a compelling program model to build on. The EnergySmart program on an annual basis has created 260 jobs, 62 million kilowatt hours of electricity savings, and $5.2 million in energy cost savings. It's been incredibly successful" said Muraki.

A broader benefit of the new fund Muraki added, would be the continued facilitation of partnerships between programs that serve youth, labor unions, and educational institutions including technical and community colleges.

The EnergySmart Jobs program focuses on promoting energy efficiency in the realm of commercial refrigeration. Corpsmembers visit grocery stores and restaurants before and after energy retrofits and use iPhones to enter data that demonstrates the impact of energy and cost savings produced by the program. 

Muraki noted that the upcoming sale of carbon credits established by California's soon to be implemented cap-and-trade program would also be a big win for energy efficiency and clean energy industries throughout California, and we can also presume Corpsmembers— who are going to receive the training and education needed to fill positions with skilled labor in years to come.