NY Green Bank’s Success Prompts a Federal Proposal

We previously wrote a primer on New York’s Green Bank, which was created in 2014 to fund institutions that want to increase their clean energy practices but that face financial or market obstacles . The Green Bank supports these organizations and businesses by providing services such as financial consulting and portfolio management. The program’s ultimate objective is to move the state closer to its goal of generating 50% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030 and 80% by 2050. So far, it has been quite a success.

According to New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s (NYSERDA) annual review, the program has far exceeded its financial goal for the year, having had an initial objective to invest $200 million during this period. As of June 2017, the NY Green Bank has invested $291.6 million and has generated a net positive income of $2.7 million for the 2016/17 fiscal year. These investments are projected to generate 217-341 MW of energy distributed among residential, commercial, and other sectors. In the three years since its inception, NY Green Bank’s investments are expected to curb as many as 6.4 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of removing between 50,000 and 70,000 cars from the road for 20 years.

Over the course of the nine months following June 2017, the Green Bank is planning to include in its investment portfolio projects such as microgrids, energy efficiency, renewable energy sources, energy storage, fuel cells, community distributed generation, sustainable transportation, and LED streetlights. The program has hopes to grow its investment fund to at least a cumulative $550 million by March 2018.

The popularity of New York’s Green Bank, as well as those of five other states, has caught the attention of the federal government. US Rep. Paul Tonko, representing Amsterdam, NY, is co-sponsoring a bill attempting to establish a National Green Bank. This piece of legislation would create a federal program to finance renewable energy projects, with an initial investment cap at $10 billion. While as of now only Democratic representatives have co-sponsored the bill, it has also piqued the interest of some Republicans in favor of clean energy.

The National League of Conservation Voters has endorsed this bill, alongside the Natural Resources Defense Council and several other environmental organizations. A National Green Bank would be an important step forward leveraging markets and technology to help reduce our country’s carbon footprint and encourage sustainability on a large scale.