Gov. Jerry Brown announced Thursday that he signed a bill requesting the UC and requiring the CSU systems to consider expanding their current partnership with utilities in the eventual aim of further reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The bill, AB 1150, requests that the UC and CSU systems expand the current partnership between the school systems and investor-owned utilities to include publicly-owned utilities. This request aims to further goals of greenhouse gas emission reduction by allowing an increased number of campuses working with publicly-owned utilities to join the partnership.
Currently, the university, CSU system and California’s largest investor-owned utilities participate in a program called “The Energy Efficiency Partnership,” which works to meet environmental standards set forth by the California Public Utilities Commission.
The partnership requires that both institutions submit annual reports on the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that occur from the projects undertaken from this partnership to the involved utilities. It was approved unanimously by the state Assembly and Senate in September.
In a letter from the UC Office of the President to Assemblymember Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, sent in April, Legislative Director Jason Murphy announced the university as a sponsor of AB 1150 and thanked both Rendon and Assemblymember Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, who introduced the bill, on behalf of the university.
This bill is designed to create an administrative framework that could affect future funding for either the UC or CSU system, rather than immediately guaranteeing funding toward sustainability goals.
For CalSERVE Senator Wes Adrianson, whose platform included sustainability, the lack of funding is a cause for concern.
“I’m more concerned about funding issues,” Adrianson said. “I’d like to see some actual funding from Sacramento that could help us do these projects, because right now that’s the biggest hurdle that we’re facing.”
Additionally, according to the website of Working Smarter, a UC efficiency initiative, the university has 50 buildings that have been certified as energy efficient by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design , or LEED, a program that evaluates buildings as environmentally sound — the highest number of certified buildings of any United States university.
The university is also in the midst of an initiative to reach carbon neutrality by 2025, a goal announced by UC President Janet Napolitano in November 2013. According to bill analysis prepared by Sue Kateley, chief consultant of the state assembly Committee on Utilities and Commerce, “this bill is in line with that goal, and expands on current practices to achieve it.”
“I don’t think it’s going to be a huge game changer,” Adrianson said. “But I think it shows a good faith relationship between Sacramento and UC that we need to make sure our university is approaching sustainability in as inclusive and fast of a way as possible.”
Staff writer Laurel Bard contributed to this report.