SAN FRANCISCO - A $5 billion bond measure that was financed by a T. Boone Pickens-owned firm has qualified for the California ballot in November.
The "Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Renewable Energy" measure would finance a hodgepodge of programs, but most of the proceeds would be ticketed to providing rebates for buyers of high-fuel economy and alternative fuel vehicles.
It qualified for the ballot Tuesday, according to Secretary of State Debra Bowen.
According to campaign finance documents filed with the secretary of state, the signature-gathering campaign to qualify the ballot measure was entirely funded with contributions from the Clean Energy Fuels Corp. of Seal Beach, Calif., which has spent more than $3.15 million.
Pickens, the firm's billionaire founder, owns more than 60% of the publicly traded company's outstanding shares, according to an April filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Clean Energy provides natural gas refueling services for vehicles, focusing on municipal fleets and sectors like buses, trucking, taxis, and garbage trucks.
The bond measure would dedicate $2.875 billion toward rebates for buyers of new high-fuel economy and alternative fuel vehicles. Voters may notice that the program would offer $2,000 rebates for vehicles that get at least 45 miles per gallon on the highway currently only the Toyota Prius and the hybrid version of the Honda Civic, according to the Environmental Protection Agency's fueleconomy.gov website.
But those rebates would be capped at $110 million. The lion's share of the rebates almost $2 billion would be directed at providing $25,000 to $50,000 rebates for buyers of new "clean alternative fuel" medium- to heavy-duty vehicles, such as the natural gas-powered ones used by the truck and bus fleets that drive most of Clean Energy's business.
It's not the first time Pickens has attempted to use tax-exempt bonds to boost one of his ventures; last year he engineered the creation of an eight-acre freshwater supply district in rural Texas that has tax-exempt bonding and condemnation authority to build lines to move water and power to urban Texas.
The November bond measure also includes $1.25 billion for solar and wind power projects, as well as money for research grants and demonstration projects.
It is the 10th statewide initiative to qualify for California's November general election, and the third bond measure.
Voters will also decide a Legislature-referred $9.95 billion bond measure that would finance a high-speed passenger train system, and a $980 million bond measure for remodeling and construction of children's hospitals. The signature-gathering campaign for the hospital measure was financed by the beneficiaries.
Statewide bond measures need a simple majority vote to pass in California.