Murphy and Esty Want $10 Billion for 'National Green Bank'
Based on a successful energy financing model that was first implemented in Connecticut, Rep. Elizabeth Esty and Sen. Chris Murphy are leading renewed calls for the creation of a National Green Bank.
Similar legislation has been introduced by Democrats in past years, but Esty said there's a new urgency to boost clean energy jobs after President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris agreement on climate change, damaging the nation's standing as a leader in the industry.
The National Green Bank would lend to state and local green banks, which leverage public funds to attract private money for energy projects. The goal of the banks is to make energy efficiency and renewable energy projects more accessible so homeowners and businesses can reduce their energy costs.
"As public-private partnerships, green banks accelerate the growth of green energy by providing innovative, long-term, low-cost financing for energy-saving improvements," said Bryan Garcia, CEO of the Connecticut Green Bank.
Since its creation in 2011 Garcia said the Connecticut Green Bank has turned $173 million in public dollars into more than $1 billion in total investment.
"As a result, the Connecticut Green Bank has been able to reduce the energy burden on 22,000 households and businesses, deploy 220 megawatts of renewable energy and in the process, help create 13,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs," he said.
Esty and Murphy's legislation, which they will introduce Thursday, calls for $10 billion in start-up funds, with an additional $40 billion available if the bank requests it.
"Green banks are creating jobs and helping the environment," Murphy said. "Connecticut led the way by launching the first-ever green bank back in 2011, and since then, it has attracted $1 billion for clean energy investments. Even though the Trump administration chose to turn its back on our planet, we can choose to push back by investing in cleaner ways to power our world. Our Green Bank Act is a good first step."
One of the biggest challenges facing state green banks is a lack of access to funding, Esty said. Clean-energy and energy-efficiency technologies are new and lenders can be hesitant to back projects.
"We've proven in Connecticut that with the right kind of support and financing ... the impact can be dramatic and terrific," she said.
Altogether, renewable energy accounts for more than 800,000 U.S. jobs, Esty said.
In addition to Connecticut, New York, California, Vermont, Hawaii and Rhode Island have state-sponsored green banks.