The California Energy Commission voted Thursday to award $33.1 million in federal stimulus funds for a statewide energy conservation program after a Riverside County judge's stay on the action was lifted by an appellate court.
The money supports Energy Upgrade California, an energy efficiency retrofit program for residential and commercial buildings. Among its goals is a one-stop website for available rebates.
The commission had left its regular Wednesday meeting in Sacramento open indefinitely to quickly reconvene if it got a favorable appeal court decision.
Attorneys representing the Western Riverside Council of Governments, which had opposed releasing the money, filed an immediate request for relief Thursday with the Fourth District Court of Appeal, based in Riverside.
But with the commission having already approved the funding, an attorney for the council said the outcome is uncertain.
The council's attorneys said it was possible the appellate court made its ruling "on false pretenses" -- it may never have seen an energy commission withdrawal of its claim that it faced an Oct. 21 deadline to spend or lose the federal money.
That document was returned as improperly filed Wednesday afternoon, the same time the appellate court overturned the stay, the court's docket showed.
"Now here we are with a stay in place, based on the original pleading by the California Energy Commission that contains false, misleading or inaccurate information," council attorney Jeffrey Dunn of Best Best & Krieger said.
The stay also extends to a Nov. 4 contempt hearing for the commission.
The council had claimed that after the commission canceled a contract the council had disputed earlier this year, a new contract with essentially the same awardees had been drawn up and approved. The council claimed it was done to dodge the lawsuit.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge John D. Molloy agreed, and on Oct. 14 issued a stay on awarding money.