The notion of a bank funded with government dollars to support carbon-reducing projects may be as foreign as the concept of joint private-government partnerships. But both are growing models for raising money, funding green projects and meeting state goals of encouraging renewable energy.
Although not everyone agrees, it will take some public money to de-carbonize the U.S. economy, Reed Hundt, said today during a teleconference sponsored by an American Bar Association committee within ABA’s Environment, Energy and Resources Section.
Hundt, a Yale Law School graduate and previous Chairman of the Federal Communication Commission, founded and now runs the Coalition for Green Capital, a non-profit group located in Washington, D.C., that advocates throughout the U.S. and abroad for the creation of green banks.
It will take approximate $200 billion for the U.S. to “de-carbonize” its economy, Hundt said today. Green banks leverage public money to create combined public-private funding for a variety of green projects.
Connecticut, which started the first state green bank in 2011, has used its green bank to expand local rooftop solar energy. The state has managed to increase renewable energy and lower statewide electricity prices, Hundt said. According to Hundt, Connecticut’s green-bank funding relies on only one dollar of public money for every ten dollars of private money.
Hundt’s Coalition for Green Capital is a collection of businesses, investors and attorneys. The group seeks state partners, and once it finds them, it lays the groundwork to create a state green bank by analyzing legislation, policies and state energy markets.
“Not every state likes to call it a green bank,” Hundt said. But Calif., Conn., N.Y., N.J. and Hawaii have created green-bank-type specialized funding vehicles to support green infrastructure.
The Coalition for Green Capital also is engaged at some level in creating green banks in Del., Md., Minn., Nev., Ohio and Vt.
In Maryland, for example, “Brian Frosh, candidate for Attorney General, introduced a green bank study bill and passed it in the spring,” Hundt said. “[E]veryone is waiting for the results of the election to see if that piece of legislation will lead to the creation of a green bank.”
Talk of a federal green bank has thus far gained no traction.
The U.S. has no comprehensive national energy policy, although some argue the collection of federal laws and agency policies together provides the equivalent.
Thus far, the U.S. Congress has fallen far short of providing predictability and certainty to renewable energy markets.
“All the states would really like it if the federal government’s tax policies in clean energy were the same and predictable over many, many years into the future.” Hundt said.
Hundt’s program materials are available on the ABA’s website, as is an explanation of joint public-private partnerships and their growing use in funding renewable energy, energy efficiency, water infrastructure and other projects that reduce carbon emissions and promote sustainability.