This week, a bill proposing moving heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in schools to more energy efficient units and speeding up approvals for electrical and zero-emission vehicle infrastructure will get one of the final votes needed for approval by the legislation 18 months after the initial introduction to the congregation.
A multi-faceted bill based on energy efficiency
Bill 841, drafted by MP Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), would specifically require the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to take final decisions on new zero-emission vehicle infrastructure such as EV chargers for electric cars by March 2021. AB 841 would essentially all charging stations or places where charges are offered have a separate charging meter infrastructure by mid-2021. Charging stations would only be installed by licensed contractors with a person installing such EV infrastructure with certification of the EV infrastructure training program.
The bill also addresses HVAC systems in schools. AB 841 would provide funding to schools, as part of the Schools Energy Efficiency Program, to set up more energy efficient and better ventilated HVAC systems. Inefficient and non-compliant plumbing systems would also be replaced by less wasteful ones.
The PUC would get funding for the School Energy Efficiency Program through 2023 and would also involve energy companies to find the best systems for schools. 25% of all new systems are deployed to schools in underserved communities, with those schools being prioritized for newer systems.
MP Ting originally wrote the bill to promote energy conservation, lower energy bills for schools, reduce pollution and create more green jobs. However, the advent of COVID-19 has shown that schools need to have better air quality and prevent COVID-19. After a year of inactivity, the upcoming shoulder mine revived the bill in June and MP Ting changed the bill to better emphasize the need for COVID-19.
This resulted in AB 841 being passed by the Senate’s Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee earlier this month.
“More green jobs under CA’s stimulus plan!” Exclaimed MP Ting after the committee vote. “A Senate committee passed my Law AB 841Temporary diversion of energy efficient funds to improve HVAC systems in schools, which can help prevent the spread of COVID-19;; The bill also accelerates the approval process for electric vehicles Charger. “
More green jobs under CA’s #EconomicStimulusPlan! A Senate committee passed my Law No. AB841, which temporarily diverted energy efficient funds to improve HVAC systems in schools to prevent the spread of No. COVID19. The bill also expedites approvals for # EV chargers.
– Phil Ting (@PhilTing) August 4, 2020
The opposition to AB 841 is growing
While the bill was originally unanimously and bipartisan backed when it was a water safety bill last year, the bill’s changed priorities have largely split the vote. Many GOP legislators have spoken out against the bill because AB 841 combines two topics in one bill and questions arise about whether or not HVAC systems need to be replaced in many schools. The need for additional temporary expenses and department expansion at such an economically critical time has also been questioned by many in Sacramento.
“The bill almost built in a driver,” remarked attorney Megan Kirsch in a Globe interview. “One part deals with electric cars, the other with air conditioning systems for schools. One part fulfills this exemption for COVID-19 invoices in this session, the other does not.
“When I read this, that was the first thing that came to mind. How much did that pack in one bill with things that had nothing to do with each other. “
“I can see how many senators voted against in committee alone. Nobody votes against child safety, right? Especially during a pandemic? Well, that just adds something, and that’s not right. And this is how many legislators see it. That is not right.”
“We have a few weeks to go before the end of the session, so we’ll see how far this goes. Many lawmakers see this bill for what it is and it is sad because improving air conditioning for schools, especially during such a heatwave, is very beneficial. But it is dumped in other projects. “
Despite the uncertainty about the bill, AB 841 is expected to retain a majority of support in both the Assembly and Senate.
AB 841 is expected to be negotiated by the Senate Appropriations Committee very soon.