Sparking the Green Bank Movement

Today the Connecticut Green Bank won the prestigious Innovations in American Government Award for 2017. Given annually by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance, today’s ceremony acknowledges what those in the Green Bank and clean energy finance world have seen for years – that Connecticut Green Bank sparked a Green Bank movement. The Connecticut Green Bank now joins an impressive list of past winners, all of whom have demonstrated how creative policy, partnerships and focus can create large-scale change from the status quo.

And that kind of change is exactly what is needed today to address climate change. Each new policy, regulation and government approach to reduce GHGs is a move in the right direction. But the significant change – which moves our communities onto an entirely different emissions pathway – will only come with a dramatic departure from business-as-usual. The global projected climate investment gap is $27 trillion. There is no way to fill this gap without innovative new government approaches that reorient capital and energy markets in a new direction.

And as the Connecticut Green Bank has proven, dramatic departure from business as usual can be a win-win-win for government, energy-users, and the private sector. Government capital is preserved through financing, energy customers get cheaper and cleaner energy, and the private sector can move into new market opportunities. Successful innovations are better, cheaper, or faster, the Connecticut Green Bank has found a way to deliver on all three.

The Connecticut Green Bank just cleared $100M in commercial building upgrades with C-PACE. Through its partnership with Posigen, over 1,000 CT low-to-moderate income households have lower their energy costs through solar and efficiency. Innovative new clean energy technologies are being deployed. All while maximizing the value of the public dollar. And, to its, credit, the Green Bank has worked hard to be complementary and additive to the existing programs, enabling all government programs to shine.

The value brought to Connecticut citizens is clear, but the real power of this innovation comes from replication. New York’s Green Bank is now profitable. The District of Columbia has legislation to create the first U.S. city Green Bank. Nevada is taking its own approach to the Green Bank model. And it’s not just a U.S. movement. Ontario is capitalizing its new deployment and finance organization with cap-and-trade auction revenues. And CGC’s recent work on developing countries found surging interest in the model.

This is the power of market-oriented government innovation. If harnessed, studied, and spread through thoughtful networks and collaboration, it can catch on like wildfire. That is why CGC is excited to renew its partnership with the Connecticut Green Bank and others around the Green Bank Academy. First offered as a conference for state leaders in 2014, in partnership with the Brookings Institution, the Green Bank Academy will now be relaunched as a dedicated platform. It will educate and train policymakers, practitioners and students, building the necessary pipeline of leaders to expand the Green Bank movement and build new institutions. CGC and the Connecticut Green Bank will build on its existing partnership with Yale’s Center for Business and the Environment, which is already producing case studies.

Today’s award celebrates the Connecticut Green Bank’s past success to spark the Green Bank movement. The goal of the Green Bank Academy is to carry that movement forward, and rapidly expand it throughout the U.S. and the world.

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