The defeat of California's Proposition 23, a measure that would have suspended the state's landmark Global Warming Solutions Act, can be attributed in large part to Tom Steyer, a hedge fund manager who donated $10 million to the No On 23 campaign. Now Steyer has extended his commitment to clean energy with a $250,000 donation to the California Advanced Lighting Controls Training Program (CALCTP), a collaboration of statewide utilities, UC Davis, the community college system, and electrical labor and management unions.
CALCTP trains electricians in energy efficiency best practices and certifies graduates in design and installation of advanced lighting controls, which are generally the most cost-effective (and the easiest) way to cut down on energy consumption. In an announcement at Levi's headquarters today, a group of electrical contractors pledged to hire at least the first 50 graduates of the program.
"In most buildings, 40 percent of energy consumption goes to lighting," said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in a brief press conference. "This [initiative] combines protecting the environment and the economy."
Steyer's $250,000 will go toward creating a sales training program for CALCTP, which will recruit throughout California's major metropolitan areas. The program will hire unemployed executive salespeople who already have experience selling big-ticket items. "We're not teaching them how to sell, we're teaching them about sustainability," said Bernie Kotlier, CALCTP co-chair. "No matter how many electricians we train, they don't go to work unless somebody sells the project."
Advanced lighting controls shouldn't be difficult to sell, even for inexperienced salespeople. As Tom Steyer explained at today's press conference, normal payback on building lighting retrofits is five years, and with California's incentives, payback is just three years. Lighting efficiency is low-hanging fruit, and we're glad it's getting the attention it deserves.