Will ‘Green Bank’ grow solar?
In March, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced she would propose legislation to create a ‘Green Bank’ in the District. Green Banks use public money to leverage private investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency Connecticut, New York, and Rhode Island among other states have developed similar efforts.
Green Banks offer loans and leases to enable the construction of energy projects. They encourage investment for renewable energy projects from private sources by improving their financing outlook.
The creation of a Green Bank stems from a report by the Coalition for Green Capital funded by the District Department of Energy and Environment. The report argues that a Green Bank could help meet the $3 billion of potential energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for the District. It forecasts that for every public dollar spent by the bank, $5 of private funding could be encouraged. It goes on to state the Green Bank could be revenue-neutral over time as it can pay for itself through interest on recouped investment. The report does not forecast how long this would take.
The District already has a number of innovative programs such as PACE ,the D.C. Sustainable Energy Utility, and the Solar for All Program. The D.C. Government is also considering funding a study on the creation of a “Public Bank”. It is not yet clear how all these programs fit together and if funding one means and increase or decrease of support to the other.
The District will need to see significant investment into solar if it wants to reach the ambitious goals it set out in the Solar for All program. DC SUN will continue to monitor legislation as it moves through the D.C. Council and the Green Bank should it come to fruition.