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Entries in Cool Schools (1)

Monday
Aug012011

Cool Schools Bill Passed – Now What?

Public schools around Oregon this summer are getting energy-efficient upgrades such as new windows and boilers, thanks to the so-called "Cool Schools" bill (House Bill 2960) the legislature passed this session. Governor Kitzhaber touted the program as a job-creation plan during his campaign, saying it would put to work hundreds of contractors who would install locally made, energy-efficient products in schools.

Governor Kitzhaber outlines Cool Schools projects that were "shovel ready" when he signed the bill in June.The politics behind the Cool Schools bill were remarkable. The bill was labeled as Governor Kitzhaber's initiative and championed by two young, progressive House Democrats from Portland, Reps. Jules Bailey and Jefferson Smith. By all accounts, Republicans had every right to be skeptical. But the bill sailed through the legislature, gaining unanimous votes in both chambers. By the time the bill passed the Senate, Republicans such as Rep. Tim Freeman of Roseburg had signed on as co-sponsors.

The bill directs the Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) to issue low- or zero-interest loans to schools. School districts submit an application to ODOE outlining schools' needs, and ODOE issues the funds. The money schools save on lower energy bills should be more than enough to pay back the loans over time.

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