WASB Opposes Elimination of Energy Efficiency Revenue Limit Exemption

Based on resolutions adopted by the WASB Delegate Assembly, the WASB opposes the bill draft being put out for co-sponsorship by Rep. Adam Neylon (R-Pewaukee) and Sen. Frank Lasee (R-De Pere) to end the revenue limit exemption for school energy efficiency projects.

In particular, WASB Resolution 2.41 (r)  states:

2.41 Modification of Revenue Limits The WASB supports legislation altering the revenue cap to allow for the needs of individual districts with respect to the requirements of their programs, including: (1994-11)(1995-3)

(r) The WASB supports allowing districts to levy taxes outside of revenue limits for per-pupil expenditures for transportation above the state average per-pupil expenditure for transportation as well as for increases in fuel and utility costs and costs for energy conservation efforts, including those which involve capital maintenance. (2007-4) (2009-4) (2012-05)

In addition, WASB Resolution 5.63 states:

5.63 The WASB supports authorizing school districts to use all grants, loans and other financing methods allowed by law for energy conservation and renewable energy projects. (2008-11)

We encourage members to contact their state legislators and urge them to not sign on to support this proposal.  If you are not sure who your legislators are use the “Find My Legislators” feature on the Legislature’s website and enter your address.

Talking Points:

  • As a state, we want school districts to be looking for ways to reduce overhead costs so districts can put more of their limited resources into classroom instruction.
  • School districts undertake energy efficiency projects primarily to reduce energy consumption and energy-related costs.   The legislature exempted the cost of certain qualifying energy efficiency projects from the revenue limits because it encourages school districts to undertake these cost-saving projects sooner rather than later.
  • Before lawmakers talk about eliminating this exemption they should gather facts and make a decision based on evidence.  They should ask the non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau to conduct a performance audit of energy efficiency projects undertaken under this exemption so they have information about the relative costs and benefits of this exemption and whether there may be ways to reduce the cost of the energy efficiency projects that schools are undertaking. We believe such an audit may very well find that there are certain requirements in current law that must be met in order to obtain the exemption that may unnecessarily increase the cost to school districts of undertaking such projects.  It would make more sense to eliminate those costly requirements than to eliminate the exemption.
  • The DPI has recently promulgated emergency rules regarding the revenue limit exemption for energy efficiencies, which among other things are designed to bring greater transparency to energy efficiency projects by requiring school boards to document how much energy each change within the project will save.  The new rules also clarify that expenditures for one-to-one commuting devices do not qualify for the exemption no matter how much less energy they use than any devices they replace.  The rules further clarify that school districts may retrofit, replace or update existing equipment or improve facilities if such improvements result in the avoidance of, or reduction in, energy costs or related operational costs. Expenditures for the expansion of facilities or the addition of equipment are not allowed unless it is necessary to improve the efficiency of the existing facility. The new DPI rules also clarify that the cost savings resulting from the energy efficiency measures undertaken must equal or exceed the expenditures.