By Geof Koss, E&E News reporter
Published: Wednesday, July 22, 2020
An assortment of interests are stepping up pressure on Capitol Hill to include assistance for struggling clean energy sectors in the upcoming COVID-19 relief package that lawmakers are hoping to enact in the coming weeks.
The new push — which includes industry groups, environmentalists, governors and major corporations — comes as the Trump administration and House and Senate lawmakers kicked off formal negotiations yesterday on a new phase of pandemic assistance that — like past talks — is focused more broadly on immediate economic and public health challenges (E&E Daily, July 21).
But advocates are pointing to the roughly 600,000 clean energy jobs lost since the pandemic hit in March to argue for assistance in the next phase.
A coalition that includes dozens of environmental and industry trade groups as well as state and local government officials today will send a letter to Senate leaders calling for the inclusion of $20 billion in the next pandemic bill for a nonprofit Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator that was passed by the House earlier this month as part of Democrats’ $1.5 trillion infrastructure package, H.R. 2.
“The opportunity to build the infrastructure to generate, move, store and use clean and efficient energy is nearly boundless,” said the letter, led by the Coalition for Green Capital.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 22, 2020
After House Passage, Nearly 100 Groups Urge Senate to Add Clean Energy Jobs Accelerator in Recovery Package
House provided $20B for nonprofit accelerator based on National Climate Bank concept
Clean energy industry has lost at least 600,000 jobs due to COVID19
WASHINGTON—Nearly 100 organizations today sent a letter to U.S. Senate leaders requesting they include $20 billion to start a clean energy jobs nonprofit accelerator in the economic relief package being crafted. With that funding and the nonprofit’s creation, 3 million jobs would be created. Last month, the U.S. House passed the accelerator and funding (based on the National Climate Bank Act) by a vote of 243-178.
With tens of millions of American jobs lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic so far—600,000 in the clean energy industry alone—and studies showing that up to 42 percent of those jobs will not return, the groups argue that Congress must urgently make long term investments that create jobs and build a cleaner future.
“Throughout our nation’s history during times of immense challenge, we have taken bold action to build a better future for our country. Voters expect Congress to continue this tradition,” the groups wrote.
The letter, spearheaded by the Coalition for Green Capital, was signed by a diverse group of industry, trade and environmental advocacy groups, along with state and local officials. Large environmental organizations include the Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, National Resources Defense Council, League of Conservation Voters, Union of Concerned Scientists, Climate Reality Project, and Appalachian Voices.
Other key clean energy industry groups— Solar Energy Industries Association, Energy Storage Association, Vote Solar, and Advanced Energy Management Alliance—added their voices.
State green banks and funding agencies, innovative start-ups and larger corporations, clean tech investors, utilities and regional advocacy groups—from Alaska to Hawaii, Florida to Michigan, Colorado to Pennsylvania and dozens more states—all signed on to support. Their support signals that this proposal is an effective way to put people to work and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The accelerator, as envisioned in S. 2057 Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Ed Markey, would use the green bank model to pair each public dollar with multiple private ones to build a range of clean energy projects throughout the U.S. This includes renewable power, building efficiency, grid infrastructure like transmission, industrial decarbonization, clean transportation, reforestation and climate-resilient infrastructure. Because the dollars are repaid over time, they can be recycled to make additional investments in the future.
Twenty percent of the funds must go to low-income and climate-impacted communities, many of which have also been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The groups added: “Immediate economic relief is essential in this crisis, but so too is providing a livelihood for the millions of American families and households out of work. Voters across parties want Congress to invest in clean energy job creation to put Americans back to work.”
Recent national polling shows eight out of 10 Americans want Congress to create clean energy jobs and seven out of 10 support depositing $35 billion into a fund to achieve this. The groups concluded: “Voters across parties want Congress to invest in clean energy job creation to put Americans back to work.”
Read the letter and full listing of groups that signed it below.
The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader of the Senate
The Honorable Chuck Schumer
Minority Leader of the Senate
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer:
Last week, U.S. Treasury Sec. Steve Mnuchin asked Congress to pass additional economic relief, especially for industries that have seen significant job losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of those is the clean power and transportation sector, which has already lost 600,000 good-paying jobs that support middle class families.
To get these workers and their families across the country back on their feet, and create millions more new clean energy jobs, we urge you to provide $20 billion for a nonprofit Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator. In June, the House included the nonprofit accelerator and funding when it passed the Moving Forward Act.
Throughout our nation’s history during times of immense challenge, we have taken bold action to build a better future for our country. Voters expect Congress to continue this tradition. In national polls, 4 out of 5 voters want Congress to invest in new jobs to build clean energy infrastructure, like wind turbines, solar panels, power lines, and electric vehicle charging. And 69 percent say the U.S. government should deposit as much as $35B into a nonprofit accelerator to achieve that goal.
The opportunity to build the infrastructure to generate, move, store and use clean and efficient energy is nearly boundless. Trillions of dollars of investment is needed to build clean energy infrastructure that will put millions back to work, strengthen communities, reduce pollution, improve public health, lower energy costs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator—as envisioned by Sens. Markey and Van Hollen (S.2057) and Rep. Debbie Dingell (H.R.5416) in the National Climate Bank Act of 2019—is a common sense vehicle for this investment because it will pair each public dollar with multiple private ones to build a range of clean energy projects. These projects could include renewable power, building efficiency, grid infrastructure, industrial decarbonization, clean transportation, reforestation, and climate-resilient infrastructure. Every public dollar invested will be repaid by the Accelerator, which means dollars can be recycled to drive even more private investment in the future.
The nonprofit accelerator will use the green bank model that has been proven at the state and local level in the U.S. There are already successful green banks in states like Michigan, Florida, Connecticut and Hawaii, and new ones in place in Colorado, Ohio, and Nevada. These green banks have driven over $5 billion of investment into clean energy; for each public dollar invested, $2.60 of private investment has followed.
To strengthen communities in every corner of America, the nonprofit accelerator will fund the expansion of the existing green banks and help form new regional, state or local green banks across the U.S. This will build a network of local institutions designed expressly to meet the employment, energy, development and environmental needs of that community.
No community will be overlooked: At least 20 percent of the nonprofit accelerator’s investment must go to frontline, low-income and climate-impacted communities. Existing green banks have already proven the possible, delivering clean energy and health benefits to communities that have historically been left behind. This ensures good clean energy jobs are formed throughout the U.S., especially in areas that need them the most.
Immediate economic relief is essential in this crisis, but so too is providing a livelihood for the millions of American families and households out of work. Voters across parties want Congress to invest in clean energy job creation to put Americans back to work. Including and funding Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator will achieve this.
Environmental Non-Profit Organizations
Chesapeake Climate Action Network
The Climate Reality Project
Environmental Defense Fund
League of Conservation Voters
Maryland League of Conservation Voters
Natural Resources Defense Council
New Jersey League of Conservation Voters
Union of Concerned Scientists
Trade and Industry Associations
Advanced Energy Management Alliance
American Green Bank Consortium
Americans for a Clean Energy Grid
Coalition for Community Solar Access
Coalition for Green Capital
Energy Efficiency Alliance of New Jersey
Energy Storage Association
Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association
Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance
Maryland Building Performance Association
Michigan Energy Efficiency Contractors Association
North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association
Northeast Clean Energy Council
Renewable Energy Alaska
Silicon Valley Leadership Group
Solar Energy Industries Association
Southern Renewable Energy Association
Funds and Community Development Financial Institutions
Climate Access Fund
Colorado Clean Energy Fund
Community Office for Resource Efficiency (CORE)
Connecticut Green Bank
DC Green Bank
Delaware Sustainable Energy Utility
Energy Resource Center, Colorado
Energy Outreach Colorado
Florida Solar Energy Loan Fund
Hawai’i Green Infrastructure Authority
Inclusive Property Capital
Maryland Clean Energy Center
Montgomery County Green Bank
Neighborhood Sun Benefit Corporation
New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation
Park City Community Foundation
Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank
Clean Energy Companies and Utilities
Aris Energy Solutions, LLC
Atlas Home Energy Solutions
Bicky Corman Law PLLC
Build Efficiently, LLC
Elevation Lighting Services Company
Energy Efficiency Experts LLC
First Cast Communications
Ground Loop Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc.
Main Street Launch
Mountain View Solar and Wind
Recurrent Innovative Solutions, LLC
RER Energy Group
Solar United Neighbors
Sustainable Real Estate Solutions, Inc.
Zinc8 Energy Solutions
State and Local Governments
Hawai’I State Energy Office
The Honorable John Barrasso
The Honorable Tom Carper
The Honorable Chris Van Hollen
The Honorable Ed Markey
Sustainability is a tantalizing idea and a trendy buzzword. Who wouldn’t want to find a way to build, produce and consume more without causing damage to our land and its inhabitants?
But in practice, new ideas require so many trade-offs—and so much cooperation among public, private and nongovernmental players—that they often get stuck, especially at the federal level. Across a country with varied geography and regional economies, there are just too many competing industries, sectors and interests to find a way forward. So if you’re looking for innovation on sustainability, train your eye on states and cities.
A “green bank” that attracts private investment in sustainable projects
This week Joe Biden announced a $2-trillion climate plan. The ambitious plan would put the U.S. on an “irreversible course” toward a carbon-free energy sector by 2035.
One of the tools Biden looks to use to achieve this goal is an “innovative financing mechanisms that leverage private sector dollars to maximize investment in the clean energy revolution.”
The House just passed a bill containing this mechanism: The Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator. Senators have introduced the same mechanism under the name National Climate Bank.
Over the last 10 years, in more than a dozen states across the country, green banks have provided investments along with private sector funds to accelerate clean energy deployment. Biden’s Plan would endorse and expand these mechanisms. Green banks are an essential technique to achieve the goal of a 100% switch from carbon to clean electricity generation in 15 years.
Job creation in a post-COVID world is central to Biden’s plan; investing in clean energy, resilient infrastructure, clean transportation, housing, and school efficiency upgrades, and sustainable agriculture is the way to do it.
Biden’s plan also recognizes what the Coalition for Green Capital has both seen in states and proven with independent analysis: Green banks create jobs. And our country needs jobs of the future more than ever.
Biden plans “to create millions of jobs producing clean electric power for American families and businesses.”
According to a recent economic study by Vivid Economics, a National Green Bank capitalized at $35 billion would create 5.4 million new jobs in its first five years of operation ( Bounce Back Greener Vivid Economics, 2020).
The proposal also includes a significant commitment to environmental justice by “setting a goal that disadvantaged communities receive 40% of overall benefits of spending in the areas of clean energy and energy efficiency deployment; clean transit and transportation; affordable and sustainable housing; training and workforce development; remediation and reduction of legacy pollution; and development of critical clean water infrastructure”.
This matches perfectly with the mission and activities of a green bank to fill financing gaps and serve communities that are currently being excluded from the benefits of the clean economy.
Yesterday the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force on Climate Change made a sweeping set of policy recommendations to the Democratic National Committee and the Biden campaign. The committee, co-chaired by Former Secretary of State John Kerry and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez provided a roadmap for how the U.S. should address climate change while supporting environmental justice, job creation and good wages. One specific area of recommendations called for new federal financing capabilities that can leverage private investment and specifically direct capital to environmental justice communities.
The concepts described and even the language used by the Task Force mimic that of the green bank model. And more specifically, the recommendation closely aligns with the newly-passed legislation in the House to fund a “Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator” with $20 billion, as well as the express recommendation of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis to form a National Climate Bank modelled on the legislation passed last week.
Under the area of policies titled, “Ensure Access to Capital in Environmental Justice Communities,” one recommendation reads:
Building the ability of the federal government to finance infrastructure, including working with states and the private sector to develop an innovative financing mechanism that leverages private sector dollars to maximize investment in the clean energy revolution and environmental justice communities.
Though the term green bank or climate bank is not named explicitly, CGC itself could not have described the National Climate Bank more succinctly. According to the legislation just passed by the House last week, Congress would capitalize a non-profit entity to serve as the national green bank that would be legally required to a) partner with states and communities to build local green bank financing capacity; b) leverage private investment; c) prioritize environmental justice communities and d) seek to maximize emissions reductions per public dollar. The alignment between this recommendation and the legislation is total.
In addition, the recommendation directly below this one states that these policies should achieve their objectives by:
Ensuring that infrastructure investments dedicate a large proportion of support to these communities in deploying or undertaking investments in clean energy, energy efficiency, clean water, clean mobility, environmental remediation, green spaces, green infrastructure and health and safety improvements
This point not only reinforces the prioritization of investment in environmental justice communities (which the legislation requires), but also enumerates a long list of kinds of clean energy and infrastructure projects that need to be eligible for investment. This, too closely aligns with the language of the National Climate Bank legislation, which authorizes investment in 1) renewable energy; 2) energy efficiency; 3) clean transportation; 4) industrial decarbonization; 5) grid infrastructure; 6) sustainable agriculture and forestry and 7) climate-resilient infrastructure. Again, the alignment between the Task Force recommendations and the National Climate Bank legislation is clear.
The entire package of recommendations put forward by the Task Force should be applauded. And for national green bank financing specifically, this document marks yet another exciting step on the march towards buy-in at the highest levels of government.
By Jean Haggerty
In the last few months, Congress has authorized more than $3 trillion in coronavirus relief, but so far none of this money has been for job creation.
“It’s been a good idea for a long time, but it’s particularly vital now for job creation,” Jeffrey Schub, the executive director of the Coalition for Green Capital, a nonprofit that incubates and supports local clean energy finance institutions – Green Banks – to drive greater clean energy investment into existing and new markets. “Any climate plan for 2021 must, first and foremost, be about job creation and equity and climate justice,” Schub added.
…This is a huge milestone for the national green bank movement
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