Democratic bill would launch $50B national green bank

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, July 22, 2016

Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen unveiled legislation yesterday that would set aside up to $50 billion for a national green bank, buffing his environmental credentials in the race for Maryland’s open Senate seat.

Van Hollen’s H.R. 5802, the “United States Green Bank Act of 2016,” would provide loans, loan guarantees and risk management to developers of clean energy and energy efficiency projects and leave discretion for project selection and management with local green banks.

The Coalition for Green Capital, Natural Resources Defense Council and Connecticut Green Bank are backing the bill.

Democratic co-sponsors are Reps. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania, Gerry Connolly of Virginia, Elizabeth Esty and Jim Himes of Connecticut, and Paul Tonko of New York and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton of Washington, D.C.

Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy said he intends to introduce a companion bill in the upper chamber.

“Connecticut launched the first-ever Green Bank in the country in 2011, and it’s attracted over $800 million of investment in clean energy since,” Murphy said in a statement. “Green Banks bring together the public and private sectors to save customers money, create good jobs, and help the environment. The Connecticut model is proof that Green Banks work.”

Van Hollen first proposed the creation of a national green bank in 2009. That bill packed provisions that were later included in the House-passed American Clean Energy and Security Act.

There are now green banks in California, Connecticut, Hawaii, New York, Rhode Island and Van Hollen’s district in Montgomery County, Md., according to the Coalition for Green Capital.

“A lack of access to capital is the single biggest barrier for Green Bank growth,” said Reed Hundt, the coalition’s CEO. “There is enormous pent-up demand for these institutions, which are designed to be financially self-sufficient, but states and cities face such budget constraints that it’s difficult for them to come up with the funds.”

Van Hollen is facing Republican state Del. Kathy Szeliga in the November race for the Senate seat being vacated by the retirement of Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski.