While no two “green banks” are exactly the same, the idea behind these government-created financial institutions is to dramatically expand the clean energy market. Rather than providing grants to stimulate clean energy investment, green banks use attractive interest rates and other incentives to leverage money from the private sector.
In addition to offering attractive interest rates, loan-loss reserves, and other market supports, these innovative banks draw on deep expertise from the public and private sectors to help demonstrate the profitability of clean energy investments.
By the end of the year, green banks should be up and running in Connecticut, New York, and Hawaii. We hope that California will follow soon. These states form a vanguard that has recognized the value of using a small amount of public capital to generate significant private investment in clean energy. Read More
In the last week of December, the New York Public Service Commission issued an Order that signals big changes coming soon to New York’s electric utility landscape. The Commission made it clear that it wants clean energy resources, including on-site, distributed power generation (such as solar PV), energy efficiency and energy load management strategies, to play a central role in how the energy system brings value to customers. In contrast to the peripheral role clean energy resources have played in the past, the Commission is now ready to make them a priority, signaling a willingness to transform the regulatory landscape.
The Order was one of a trilogy arising from three intertwined proceedings, all of which were considered by the Commission on December 19, 2013. One of those three – perhaps the most concrete and immediate – was a proceeding concerning the initial capitalization of New York’s Green Bank, a new entity that aims to advance clean energy funding in New York State. That proceeding addresses a proposal to leverage ratepayer funds and private investment to systematically address market barriers to private financing of distributed generation, energy efficiency and demand management projects, with an ultimate goal of building a clean energy marketplace that can stand on its own. The other related proceedings concerned two New York State programs that draw on the same funding sources that are now being made available for the initial capitalization of the Green Bank: New York’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and the Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (EEPS).
This Order concerns various proposals to improve and streamline the EEPS programs. Some of these changes are effective immediately, such as the elimination of duplicative reporting requirements. Other, more substantive program modifications – such as the changes to the structure of EEPS and other clean energy programs, as well as the responsibilities of various entities (including the Commission’s Staff, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the utilities themselves) – are to be addressed through a new “E2 working group,” which is to be formed by February 1, 2014. This new working group is tasked with “sharing and developing concepts for an optimized E2 portfolio that supports a scale-up of energy efficiency and overall system efficiency,” for a program launch by the end of 2015. Read More
One of the worst hit states by last year’s Superstorm Sandy, New York is moving aggressively to avert future climate-related weather events. Governor Cuomo announced the launch of a Green Bank last week, giving the state a timely and much-needed Christmas gift.
The move shows the state’s strong commitment to the acceleration of a clean, low-carbon energy economy. New York joins the ranks of several other states, including Connecticut and Hawaii, in addressing a key issue holding clean energy in America back, namely financing. The Green Bank, which has $210 million in initial funding originating from existing ratepayer and Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative funds, targets market barriers to private financing of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
Working with private sector financial institutions, the Green Bank will offer financial products such as credit enhancement, loan loss reserves and loan bundling to support securitization (which promotes liquidity in the marketplace) and help build secondary markets. These products have long-proven successful in stimulating market developments and creating investment-quality, asset-backed securities that can be bought and traded. Read More
This commentary originally appeared on Verizon’s News Center.
Technology giant Verizon is making significant strides toward increasing the use of on-site green energy throughout its national portfolio with plans to finish more than $100 million in clean and renewable energy projects across facilities in seven states by the end of this year. The investment is estimated to reduce carbon emissions by over 15,000 metric tons each year, which is comparable to over 2,000 homes’ annual electricity use. Verizon’s video showcasing its plans includes an introduction by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)’s very own Victoria Mills, managing director of Corporate Partnerships.
The move builds on the company’s earlier foray into clean technology, resulting in Verizon’s successful 2005 investment in a 1.4 megawatt fuel cell in Garden City, New York. Fuel cells use an electrochemical process in which oxygen and fuel (natural gas or biogas) react to produce amounts of electricity. The process produces less carbon emissions than more conventional sources of electricity, and enables the possibility of affordable on-site, user-owned power generation that is as constant and reliable as a utility and provides an attractive economic payback for customers.
When selecting locations for solar and fuel-cell energy projects, Verizon was careful to consider sites with favorable zoning requirements, utility partners and regulatory regimes. Despite being financially viable, identifying suitable projects was no simple task. Financing these projects without incentives at the federal and state levels proved impossible, and the incentives often came with conflicting timetables and were difficult to leverage. Read More