Another Eventful Week!
This week, the Poly Green Schools Campaign held two crucial meetings. On Wednesday, May 12th, we met with LBUSD Facilities Director, Mr. Alan Reising. We were also joined by Ms. Ursua and Mr. Turek, from the nonprofit organization GRID Alternatives, which helps install solar power systems and provide job training for under-served communities.
With Mr. Reising, we began by discussing a beginning-of-the-year activity Poly GSC can host in August to help promote our initiative. Mr. Reising helped solidify our connection with the LBUSD Think Green Site Coordinators, and we are currently in the process of planning an event (stay tuned for more information!). With Mr. Reising, we also discussed financial incentives available to LBUSD for green energy improvements. There is no direct state funding available for solar infrastructure, however, SoCal Edison offers a Community Green Solar Green Tariff Program (CSGT). This program would allow the school to site a solar power system and receive a 20% reduction in utility bills. The school host would also be able to sponsor the nearby community, which would receive a 20% reduction in utility bills. This option has no upfront costs and is particularly important in low-income neighborhoods. Mr. Reising also expressed interest in looking into bond measures offered to the school district. Bond programs help subsidize school loans, meaning a reduction in the cost of a solar installation. However, the bond program CREBS (Clean Renewable Energy Bonds) has recently been terminated. Under Biden's new plan, it is likely that there will be new solar and bond incentives available to the district. 2012 California Prop 39, which helped schools improve infrastructure to focus on energy reduction, ends June 30th, 2022. This means that there is no more project money available to the district through this program.
Mr. Reising also emphasized approaching this issue with a two-pronged approach. We must invest in renewable technology but also focus on energy efficiency. Mr. Resiing also agreed to meet with us in the next couple of weeks to discuss the Draft Resolution that we would like to see the LBUSD Board of Education pass. We aim to make a reasonable request that will can be followed through, while still highlighting the importance of taking urgent climate action!
On Friday, May 14th, Poly GSC also met with District 5 Board Member Diana Craighead. After introducing our initiative and progress as a campaign, Ms. Craighead applauded our efforts and expressed support. When we mentioned the beginning-of-the-year, school-improving activity we plan to host, Ms. Craighead told us that she would love to attend and even potentially present! As Superident Dr. Jill Baker expressed to us in a previous meeting, Ms. Craighead was also very impressed with the networking our campaign has made, especially with Mr. Reising. She agreed that we cannot ignore the climate issue and offered to advertise our campaign/peition to the Long Beach Council PTA Presidents and Boards. She also suggested we reach out to the PTA/PTSA at individual schools. As we have struggled to reach Board Members amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms. Craighead will also be helping introduce our campaign to the individual board members.
Ms. Craighead also told us that she will be glad to meet with us again after we go over the draft resolution with Mr. Reising. From there, depending on Mr. Reising's conclusion on the logistics and cost savings of a transition to renewables, Ms. Craighead mentioned that she might be interested in potentially sponsoring the resolution!
We would like to thank Mr. Reising and Ms. Craighead for taking the time to meet with us regarding the initiative to transition LBUSD off of fossil fuels! We are well aware of the fact that the district is extremely busy with COVID-19 policies and distance learning, and greatly appreciate the opportunity to meet!