SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – A billionaire hedge fund manager who helped defeat Proposition 23 is bankrolling a program to teach electricians and contractors how to install more energy efficient lighting.

Tom Steyer pumped $5 million into the campaign against the measure that would have delayed the state’s aggressive greenhouse gas emissions law from taking effect unless unemployment was below five percent.

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On Wednesday he brought outgoing Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and incoming Democratic Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom together at Levi’s to trumpet the program.

“You can combine the two things, protecting the environment and also protecting the economy,” Schwarzenegger said.

KCBS’ Doug Sovern Reports:

Lighting a building often accounts for nearly 40 percent of a buildings’ operating costs, Schwarzenegger said, making any savings in the electricity bill very significant.

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Newsom compared the employment potential of the building upgrades and retrofitting a coal plant. Spending $1 billion on the latter would create about 870 jobs, while the former would generate 7,000 positions.

“The greatest investment you can make, from a jobs perspective, is investing in energy efficiency. There are a hundred countries around the world that are more energy efficient than the United States of America,” he said.

The good will over the advanced lighting controls training program did not stop Newsom from criticizing the lame-duck governor’s cuts to education. The mayor spoke out in support of protesters at the University of California who demonstrated against another proposal to increase fees, this time by $822.

In-state tuition at all 10 UC campuses went up 32 percent last year. The latest fee hikes up for a vote when the regents meet at the UCSF campus Thursday would put a year’s tuition at $11,124.

A dozen demonstrators were arrested at a UCSF protest on Wednesday.

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