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Connecticut’s ‘Green Bank’ Offers a Model for Future Clean Energy Policy

Clean energy policy at the federal level is an absolute mess right now. The presidential debate has taken things from bad to worse, and without Congressional action the end of this year will see the rollback of a good portion of existing federal subsidies for renewables. But if there’s any reason for optimism amongst clean energy advocates, it’s at the state and city level. And today The Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, released a new policy brief commending Connecticut’s innovative approach to clean energy policy.

The brief, written in conjunction with the Coalition for Green Capital, makes the case for what are commonly referred to as “green banks” at the state level, highlighting Connecticut’s pioneering effort to create such an institution last year. Brookings’ Mark Muro explains the Connecticut effort in brief on his blog at The New Republic:

By consolidating several existing programs into a new quasi-public corporation and then securing for the new entity the ability to raise and leverage funds from private sources, the state set up the nation’s first clean energy finance bank to leverage scarce public dollars with private capital so as to provide a combination of low-interest rate funding for clean energy projects and low-cost up-front loans for energy efficiency projects.

In other words, the new institution combines public funds with capital from private investors to make loans to clean energy projects at more affordable rates than would otherwise be available.
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