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Ian K. Kullgren
By Ian K. Kullgren July 8, 2011

Kitzhaber gets to check off one of his campaign’s clearest promises

During the 2010 gubernatorial campaign, Gov. John Kitzhaber avoided making too many concrete proposals. There were pledges -- and we're tracking them here -- to "create a water measurement program” and "attract more federal transit funds” and "integrate state policies related to climate change.”

Those are all fine and good, but they're not very specific.

One notable exception was his promise to create an energy savings bond for schools. Here's how The Oregonian reported his proposal in late October:

"Kitzhaber wants the state to issue low-interest ‘energy savings bonds' to jump-start big improvements in Oregon's public colleges and K-12 public schools. Think high-efficiency lights and windows, modern furnaces and high-tech HVAC and lighting control systems.

"The revenue bonds would be paid off with the money the schools would save on energy. Energy contractors would sign ‘performance contracts' that guarantee energy savings, increasing chances that school payments would be less than the amount they save on their electric and gas bills.”

It was a message that he repeated several times, in debates, in interviews, and on his website.

For a time during the 2011 legislative session, the promise seemed to be sitting on the back burner. House Bill 2960, the program's vehicle, was getting hearings, but it was also getting shuffled around various committees.

Near the end of May, however, the pace picked up. On June 13, the House passed the measure unanimously. On June 20, the Senate followed suit. If that's not a legislative victory, we don't know what is.

The bill matches up with what Kitzhaber promised. According to the text, the measure "Directs State Department of Energy to establish clean energy deployment program to provide grants and loans to support energy efficiency or clean energy projects, including projects to weatherize, upgrade or retrofit public schools. Provides for establishment of pilot program within clean energy deployment program.”

In The Oregonian, reporter Michelle Cole wrote that "The Oregon House helped Gov. John Kitzhaber keep a campaign promise on Monday by unanimously endorsing a bill establishing a Clean Energy Deployment Fund to pay for energy efficiency and seismic upgrades in K-12 classrooms.”

She went on to note that "House Bill 2960 lacks some details, including how much money will be available and how many districts will benefit” and that Kitzhaber's staff "estimates that every $1 million spent on school projects would yield between 10 to 15 jobs that pay more than minimum wage and last, on average, at least a year.”

All of those issues are tangential. Of course, The Oregonian will be keeping an eye on the actual results, but the bottom line is that Gov. John Kitzhaber promised voters he would get this program through the 2011 Legislature and he did.

We'll move this rating to Promise Kept.

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