Conservation Ballot Initiatives

This November, citizens across the U.S. will have a chance to cast their vote and improve the political system (yes, it is possible).  Don't like the way the economy is being handled?  Great, speak with your vote.  Disappointed that not enough action was taken to usher in a clean energy economy?  Yea, well so was I.  Unfortunately I don't which politician we're supposed to vote for to make that happen?

But aside for voting for politicians, there is another way we can help improve our states and nation: the ballot initiative.

I was sent an email about one such initiative that will be on the ballot in Georgia: Amendment 4.

If Amendment 4 is approved by the Georgia voters, it would allow the State of Georgia to enter into Energy Saving Performance Contracts (ESPC).  From the Amendment 4 website:

Performance contracts divert funds that would be spent on utility bills into building improvements that lower energy consumption. The key feature of an ESPC is that upfront costs are paid by the energy services company (ESCO) via guaranteed energy savings. Under performance contracts, the ESCO also bears all of the risk because the company guarantees to pay any difference between guaranteed savings and actual savings.

As an example, pretend the state capitol building in Atlanta heats the building with a boiler built right after the civil war using peanuts for fuel (I'm completely making this up).  Some brilliant thinker in the Georgia congress has this great idea on how we can quit using the entire peanut for fuel, and instead only use the peanut shell, which is a waste product and we could get a ton of fuel by just sweeping the shells up after the Atlanta Brave's games.  But unfortunately, GA would have to replace the 150-yr boiler with a new, super-efficient turbo boiler that is fairly expensive.  Even though the new, efficient boiler is expensive, it would save the state money over a 5-yr time horizon.  Sounds great right! money in the state's budget for energy efficient boilers :(

However, if Amendment 4 is approved, the state could issue an Energy Saving Performance Contract to a private company.  The private company would then PAY FOR THE BOILER, and the state would pay the private company back in payments with the money it saves because it doesn't have to buy whole peanuts, it would only use waste shells because the new boiler is more efficient.  Woo Hoo!!!  Everyone wins!  The state saves money over 5-yr period (and then continues to save from them on), less harmful emissions are added to Atlanta's already dirty air, and the local economy is improved because equipment was purchased and people had to be hired to install and maintain the new boiler. (Disclaimer: GA does not use peanuts to heat state buildings, but China is looking at using peanut shells in place of coal!)

Unfortunately, GA is one of the states where this isn't allowed currently. Again, from the Amendment 4 website:

Some provisions in Georgia’s Constitution prohibit multiyear contracts and prevent the state from partnering with private companies, making Georgia one of the few states in the U.S. that cannot use this tool. The legislature overwhelmingly voted to propose the amendment and it now must be ratified by voters.

Below is text in an email that was sent out by Jason Rooks who is the campaign manager for Taxpayers for Energy Efficiency and is helping to spread the word on Amendment 4.  It is a good example of how ESCO's work, and how to promote and get the word out on ballot initiatives!  If I were you, I would see if there were any energy or water conservation initiatives going to be on my ballot in November and spread the word just like the email below!

Georgia’s voters have a unique opportunity to cut government spending, create green jobs and support energy efficiency in our state with a YES vote to Amendment 4 on November’s Ballot. And I need your help today to make sure this commonsense initiative passes.

Amendment 4 is a simple solution to a complex problem in Georgia.  Our state uses tax payer dollars to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in utility bills for over 15,000 buildings.  And the buildings’ infrastructures are failing.  Aging HVAC units, water systems and lighting fixtures are costing us unnecessary millions—and wasted energy.  And the state simply does not have the money in the budget to retrofit the buildings with new technology.

Other states and private business have faced these same problems.  However, they were able to achieve success with a simple solution: performance contracting.  Performance contracting allows energy companies  to first provide an inspection and guarantee how much money the state will save with their new installations.  Then, the state contracts with these companies to retrofit the buildings.  The companies are paid back over a series of years—only from the savings from the utility bills.  The state never has to appropriate a single dollar of new  taxpayer money to this project.  The savings to the state are immediate as the maintenance costs associated with running decades old equipment are no longer needed.  And after the corporation is paid through the savings, the state enjoys what will be a 25% decrease in overall utility costs and will boast a greener more efficient infrastructure.

Once passed, Amendment 4  will allow our state to enter into these specific energy contracts—at no cost to taxpayers.  Over 11,000 green jobs will be created and millions of dollars in government waste will be cut from the budget.

I am asking you to please distribute this message to your email lists and to talk about Amendment 4 to your friends and colleagues. Ask your friends to visit and sign-up for email updates.  A full campaign, staffed by Taxpayers for Energy Efficient, is working overtime to allow our state to move forward towards greater, greener energy efficiency and we need your help to get our message out.

Thank you for your support.  Together we can champion cutting government waste, saving tax payer dollars, creating jobs and creating a cleaner, more efficient state.

Do a little research to see what ballot initiatives may be on the ticket for your community.  Let us know about any initiatives in your state in the comments below!

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You should look at Referendum 52 in Washington state. It's proposing bond money to catalyze energy performance contracting to save about 130 million in energy costs in public school buildings.

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