Esty, Murphy roll out legislation to support green banks
Two members of the state’s congressional delegation helped roll out legislation this week to support state and local efforts, such as the Connecticut Green Bank, to invest in clean-energy initiatives.
The bill was introduced Thursday, just weeks after President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement, signed by 195 countries pledging to voluntarily reduce their carbon emissions.
U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, a cosponsor of the legislation, said lawmakers should look at the bill as an investment in jobs and not just an environmental bill. Meriden and Cheshire are in her district.
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“The other nations that have signed onto the Paris Agreement aren’t just motivated by a desire to keep the planet habitable — they want to have a seat at the table in this multi-trillion dollar clean energy market,” Esty said Thursday in a conference call with reporters.
She said India and China have already surpassed the United States in investments into renewable energies.
Other cosponsors of the bill, including U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, shared the same sentiment, saying the United States needs to do more nationally to position itself as a leader in growing industries.
“America needs to get its head out of the sand,” he said during the same conference call. Proponents expressed optimism the bill could get bipartisan support, but so far no Republicans have signed onto the bill.
The bill, titled “The Green Bank Act,” calls for Congress to initially make $10 billion available for financial support to state and local programs. That support could come in the form of loans, loan guarantees, debt securitization, insurance or other means.
Green banks seek to leverage public funds to generate public-private partnerships and invest in companies in energy-related projects. Connecticut started a renewable bank in 2011, and, as of December, had helped generate more than $1 billion in investments into companies in the state.
Partnerships sparked by the Connecticut Green Bank, according to its website, generate an average of $6 in private investments for each $1 in public funds and have created roughly 13,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs.
Connecticut’s green bank program was the first in the nation in 2011, and so far five other states have since followed suit.
The bill has also been backed by many state and federal conservation groups, as well as companies who have benefited from the programs.
Kerry Brown, owner of Curtis Packaging in Newtown, said his company was able to get a “competitive” rate and terms on a loan through the program to make energy upgrades at his facility, including converting the plant to utilize wind power.
He also said the $2.5 million investment added $1.8 million to the property’s equity, making his company more attractive for future private loans and investments.