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Controller, lawmakers propose energy efficiency program

February 22, 2012 |  3:29 pm

California Controller John Chiang is best known as the Grim Reaper of financial news, docking lawmakers' pay during last year's budget dispute and sounding alarms about the state’s cash crunch.

But on Wednesday, he joined state lawmakers, labor representatives and business groups to announce legislation aimed at increasing energy efficiency in commercial buildings.

“It is really nice for a change to talk about moving California forward,” Chiang said. “We want to make sure California grows.”

If the legislation passes, the state would facilitate private loans for financing improvements to commercial buildings, such as more efficient heating and air conditioning systems. The bill’s supporters, which include Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) and Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), said the program would not cost any taxpayer money and could create jobs for out-of-work contractors hit hard by the recession.

"It is a very potent combination: job creation where we need it most, as well as energy efficiency to lower our costs," de Leon said.

Half of the state’s 9 billion square feet of commercial building space was built before tougher energy regulations were enacted, meaning there’s plenty of room for improvement, said Rex Hime, head of the California Business Properties Assn.

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-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento

Twitter: @chrismegerian

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