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New York Green Bank Could Go Nationwide

Bill Morris in Bricks & Bucks on July 19, 2017

New York State

Green Bank
July 19, 2017

The New York Green Bank, which has been financing solar, wind and other sustainable-energy projects statewide since 2014, has proven so successful that some people want it go nationwide.

In the just-completed fiscal year, the bank invested $291.6 million in 19 projects, well above the investment goal of $200 million, according to an annual report by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), which oversees the program. The public/private fund generated $2.7 million in net positive income during the past fiscal year, with revenue exceeding costs one year ahead of expectations.

NY Green Bank investments to date are expected to reduce greenhouse gases as much has 6.4 million metric tons, equivalent to removing between 50,000 and 70,000 cars from the road for a period of 20 years, according to the annual report. In an introduction to the report, NY Green Bank president Alfred Griffin says the bank expects its project portfolio over the next nine months to include microgrids, energy efficiency, wind, solar, fuel cells, storage, community distributed generation, sustainable transportation, and LED street lighting

New York is one of six states with a green bank, and the success has caught the eyes of people in Washington, D.C. Rep. Paul Tonko, a Democrat who represents Amsterdam, New York, is co-sponsoring a bill attempting to establish a National Green Bank. This legislation proposes a “pass-through” financing authority that would funnel public funds to state green banks, which would then finance private investment in solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower, ocean and hydrokinetic, fuel cell carbon capture, biofuel, and alternative fuel vehicles and infrastructure projects. The initial capitalization would be $10 billion, with a maximum of $50 billion. 

“Our New York Green Bank is a leader in this field and has already delivered more than $350 million to more than two dozen projects in our state,” Tonko said in a press release. The legislation in the House of Representatives – HR 2995 – had 13 original co-sponsors from nine states and the District of Columbia. While only Democratic representatives have co-sponsored the bill, it has also piqued the interest of some Republicans who favor of clean energy. Combined with a similar bill in the U.S. Senate, the legislation is called the Green Bank Act of 2017

The National League of Conservation Voters has endorsed this bill, alongside the Natural Resources Defense Council and several other environmental organizations.

 Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who never passes up a chance to distance himself and his state from the policies of the Trump administration, said, “As the federal government continues to sidestep funding and support of critical clean-energy programs, New York will continue to lead the fight against climate change, while working with communities across the state to ensure sustainable initiatives support future generations of New Yorkers.”

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