Today, Representative Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) and Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), with co-sponsors from across the country, introduced H.R. 2995 and S. 1406, the Green Bank Act of 2017. This bill creates a United States Green Bank that will support the creation of a 21st century American energy infrastructure by providing a comprehensive range of financing—including loans, loan guarantees and other forms of risk mitigation—on a competitive basis to local Green Banks. The United States Green Bank would solely be a pass-through for allocating funding to qualified institutions, meaning authority over project selection and management would remain with local Green Banks. The United States Green Bank would have an initial capitalization of $10 billion, and a maximum capitalization of $50 billion.
Demand for regional, state, and local Green Banks is high due to the success of early Green Banks such as the Connecticut Green Bank, which has used under $200 million in ratepayer funds to cause over $1 billion in investment in Connecticut’s clean energy and energy efficiency markets in the five years since its creation. State and local Green Banks are operating across the country, and many more Green Banks are in various stages of development. Governor Brian Sandoval (R-NV) became the most recent leader to sign Green Bank legislation in Nevada.
As the nation’s energy generation, transmission, and distribution infrastructure continue to evolve, the United States Green Bank would provide the support necessary for specific areas of the country to address energy infrastructure issues that are most relevant to that region, state, or locality. This could be a transmission project to bring clean energy from remote areas to load centers, accelerating the adoption of distributed energy generation projects in a targeted area, or financing innovative and market-ready technologies such as energy storage.
Green Banks exist to fill financing gaps in clean energy and energy efficiency markets wherever they exist and to use taxpayer and ratepayer dollars more efficiently, getting more bang for every public buck that is used to create a 21st century energy American infrastructure. The possibilities for the application of these funds are wide-ranging, and by working exclusively through regional, state, and local Green Banks, a United States Green Bank will allow for a tailored regional approach to addressing gaps in the market, instead of trying to force a one size fits all approach across the country. Existing Green Banks will be boosted by an infusion of new capital, new Green Banks can be created to address local market issues, and a the United States Green Bank will power the transition to a 21st century American energy infrastructure.