News and analysis about energy in California with an eye toward renewables.

'Clean Energy' Fund Proposition Wins Big

Retrofitting school windows for energy efficiency in Berkeley | Photo: Commons License

Proposition 39, which would raise money for green energy projects by closing a loophole in California's corporate tax laws, passed with a resounding majority Tuesday. The measure, which passed with a more than 20% margin, would end tax incentives for out of state companies to keep their facilities and jobs outside the state and require those companies to pay taxes based on in-state sales.

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Of the $1.1 billion the state's legislative office estimates will be generated each year by this measure, as much as $550 million per year over five years will be channeled into a new "Clean Energy Job Creation Fund." The fund will be used to pay for energy efficiency upgrades in schools and other public buildings, to help local governments establish PACE loan programs and similar assistance funds, and to provide job training through the California Conservation Corps and other agencies in clean energy job skills.

Other revenues from closing the tax loophole would be made available to California's public schools, colleges and universites.

The proposition was mainly backed by hedge fund capitalist and green energy enthusiast Thomas Steyer, who recently announced he'll be leaving his firm Farallon Capital to devote more time to philanthropic pursuits. Given that Steyer plowed $30 million into Proposition 39's success, it looks like he's off to a good start.

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About the Author

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree.
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