Sen. Josh Becker announces winner of ‘Ought to Be A Law’ contest; SB 755 creates an one-stop online energy portal

SACRAMENTO – Senator Josh Becker (D-Menlo Park) announces Jill Ferguson as the winner of his inaugural ‘Ought to Be A Law’ contest. Jill Ferguson submitted a bill idea to create a single layered online application for California’s energy incentive programs under the California Energy Commission (CEC). The bill idea will be carried in Senate Bill 755, called ‘California’s Layered Energy Application for Residents (CLEAR).’

“I’m so thrilled to announce Jill’s idea as the winner of our Ought to Be a Law competition,” Senator Josh Becker said. “Applying for energy incentives is simply too challenging right now and this one-stop application will make the process substantially easier.”

The winning bill idea’s entrant, Jill Grey Ferguson, is a current PhD student in environmental and resources at the Stanford Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability, as well as a Shultz Energy Fellow at the California Public Utilities Commission. The winner was selected from around 150 entrants from the various areas in the district.

SB 755 requires the CEC to create a one-stop digital application for Californians to check for which programs they are eligible, and apply to those they’re interested in. The portal would include a slew of residential energy programs for energy efficiency, building decarborization, which are currently split between multiple state agencies, federal rebates, electrical utilities, and local programs. Layering these programs into a single agency application would increase access, particularly for low-income applicants who often need to stack programs to afford transitioning to electric appliances.

“Overcoming the challenges to transform California's 14 million single family and multi-family residences into affordable, safe, healthy, resilient, and decarbonized homes represents a massive implementation challenge with at least a half a trillion dollar price tag,” Ferguson said. “The implementation of funding programs have been steeped with inequities, but an online platform aimed at improving the distributional equity of state and federal funding would be a welcome addition to the field.”

“To encourage Californians to apply for these programs, we really need to make the process more accessible,” Becker said. “This is a challenge local organizers in my district have been struggling with for a while, so this bill is a huge step in our fight.”