In September 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill (AB) 841 (Chapter 372/2020), which created the School Energy Efficiency Stimulus Program (SEES Program)—established to fund critical school improvements, support efforts to reopen schools consistent with COVID-19 guidance, and provide jobs. The SEES Program consists of two grant programs that will be funded by electrical companies with 250,000 customer accounts and gas companies with 400,000 or more customer accounts in the state. Funding for the two grants will be split 75/25 as noted below:
- The School Reopening Ventilation and Energy Efficiency Verification and Repair Program—75% of the funds will be allocated to this grant program—will award grants to school districts and charter schools to “reopen schools with functional ventilation systems that are tested, adjusted, and, if necessary or cost effective, repaired, upgraded, or replaced to increase efficiency and performance.” Priority will be given to schools in underserved communities.
- The School Noncompliant Plumbing Fixture and Appliance Program—25% of the funds will be allocated to this grant program—will award grants to state agencies, school districts, and charter schools to “replace noncompliant plumbing fixtures and appliances that fail to meet water efficiency standards and waste potable water and the energy used to convey that water, with water-conserving plumbing fixtures and appliances.” Appliances include commercial dishwashers, ice makers, and clothes washers. Once again, priority will be given to facilities in underserved communities.
Per AB 841, the California Energy Commission (CEC) will administer the SEES Program, and grant applications will be available by April 1, 2021. The CEC is required to adopt regulations and guidelines no later than May 1, 2021, and grant applications will be approved upon adoption of the regulations. Funding for the programs will be available for three years, 2021–2023, with any unspent funds from each year being carried over to the following year until the SEES Program ends in 2023.
The CEC is holding two virtual workshops on January 22, 2021, to discuss and solicit feedback on the current planning for the program—one for each program at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., respectively. CEC staff will present proposals on program design and draft program guidelines. Information on the workshops, as well as further information on the SEES Program, can be found on CEC’s website by clicking here.