The fight against climate change will need big investments in infrastructure like solar and wind farms, transmission grids and low-carbon industry. But it also needs many more small-scale investments for hundreds of millions of homes and businesses — and that kind of work is best done locally.

So say green-bank proponents like Reed Hundt, the former U.S. Federal Communications Commission chair under the Clinton administration. As co-founder and CEO of the Coalition for Green Capital, Hundt has spent the past 13 years working to expand the role of green banks, entities that use public funds to supply low-cost, long-term financing for projects that would otherwise struggle to get it.

Since the first green bank was launched in Connecticut in 201123 have sprung up across 17 states, drawing in further private-sector lending for carbon-reducing projects such as rooftop solar, efficiency retrofits and electric heat-pump installations. Last week’s passage of the Inflation Reduction Act brought the next step in that campaign: the creation of a $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, or in other words, a national green bank.

The fund will be set up by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a stand-alone entity; it’s required to begin disbursing funds within 180 days of the law’s passage. It will primarily work through state and local green banks, directing $20 billion to fund ongoing lending, loan-loss reserves and other activities. Of that amount, $8 billion is set aside for low-income and disadvantaged communities. These communities will also be the focus of the fund’s remaining $7 billion in financial assistance available for states, municipalities and tribal governments.

Eli Hopson, CEO of the DC Green Bank in Washington, D.C. — the first city-based entity of its kind in the U.S. — added that green banks can lower the risk profile of relatively novel forms of lending for private-sector banks, as entities like NY Green Bank have done for community-solar projects and affordable-housing efficiency and electrification projects.

For a commercial banker, these projects take as much work as a $10 million project or a $100 million project,” he said. ​For them to learn the new market of solar credits, get comfortable with the technology — that’s a big investment of time and resources.”

Jessica Pitts, co-founder and principal of Flywheel Development, a Washington, D.C.–based sustainable development company that’s working with DC Green Bank on installing community solar in the Fairfax Village community, noted that ​the challenge with financing is the relative newness of the solar market compared to other business ventures, like restaurants or apartment buildings, that traditional banks are comfortable with financing.”

One of the roles the green bank has served in working with us is legitimizing solar as an asset class or business enterprise that can be financed and should be financed, that it’s viable and makes sense,” she said.

DC Green Bank is also working with PosiGen on its low-income solar programs, which have already landed enough customers to exhaust its existing $7 million loan facility, CEO Hopson said. While these loans are still in their early days, other green banks with longer track records ​report back to us that they have fewer challenges with loans in low-income communities than they do with more mainline business projects they fund,” he said. One potential reason is that, while businesses may ​use bankruptcy as a tool that can be deployed from time to time,” low-income community residents and groups ​are just committed to making it work.”

DC Green Bank is seeking additional funding from the national green bank to double the size of its low-income solar program to $15 million, Hopson said. That’s one of a host of projects that are part of the Coalition for Green Capital’s $21 billion backlog estimate.

From a national perspective, $27 billion invested in sustainable finance goes a long way toward drawing in the leverage from private institutions to say, ​This is a real commitment,’” he said.

Read the Full Article Here

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, President Joseph R. Biden signed the historic Inflation Reduction Act. This legislation is a landmark achievement on the road to a cleaner, more equitable, and more prosperous future for all. The Act is a downpayment towards meeting the necessary emissions reductions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Included in the bill is $20 billion for the creation of a national green bank. The Environmental Protection Agency now has the ability to create a single non-profit national clean power financing institution charged with deploying public dollars and unlocking private investment to accelerate the development of a 21st Century clean economy, supporting millions of good, green jobs, and providing a secure and livable environment for generations to come – a concept supported in the Congressional record by Rep. Debbie Dingell. In an important statement on who should benefit from this investment, of the $20 billion, 40% is earmarked for historically disadvantaged communities that have been left behind for decades. Lastly, an additional $7 billion will be made available through this Act for state, local, and tribal governments to provide even more financial support for low income and disadvantaged communities to benefit from clean energy and energy efficiency financing across the nation.

Eli Hopson, CEO of DC Green Bank, said of the Inflation Reduction Act, “We now have an incredible toolkit to accelerate our fight against climate change and surging climate impacts. The Inflation Reduction Act provides a strong financial foundation on which we can build a clean future for all. We call on the Environmental Protection Agency to swiftly deploy the capital to create a national green bank that will invest directly in clean energy, energy efficiency, and climate friendly projects, as well as deliver indirect financial support to existing state and local green banks and community serving financial institutions. We are in communities every day, building the relationships and green project pipelines necessary to scale impact and show what a clean future can mean for all. I applaud the efforts of climate Champions like Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ed Markey, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, and the countless activists, environmental justice advocates and climate champions that have worked so hard to see this day come to fruition. If we are going to address climate change and give future generations a fighting chance, we can’t afford to waste any time before we get to work.”

Brandi Colander, Chair of the DC Green Bank Board of Directors, said of the groundbreaking legislation, “The Inflation Reduction Act is the single largest climate investment in our nation’s history. We have an opportunity to get it right this time – for too long our patterns of investment have not prioritized minority-, low-income, and frontline communities on the road to our climate, energy, and public health goals. A significant portion of these dollars must support these communities, and DC Green Bank – and green banks across the country – must now demonstrate that sustainability is for everyone and that we are all in this together. The Board of Directors is excited to continue supporting the Green Bank team as we chart a strategic path forward that maximizes the climate and equity impacts of these federal funds and elevates community stories that bring the promise of a clean and bright future to all.”

August-2022-Inflation-Reduction-Act-DCGB-Press-Release
  • August 17, 2022
  • 12:00 pm
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  • Registration Closed
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    DC Green Finance Authority (“DC Green Bank”) will conduct a Regular Meeting of the Board of Directors, pursuant to the Open Meetings Act, (DC Official Code §2-574(1)).

    Pre-registration is required.

    Regular Meeting of the DC Green Bank Board of Directors

    August 17 2022

    By Kazi Stastna, CBC News

    You’ve heard of the gold rush? Get ready for the green rush. With close to $370 billion US ($475 billion Cdn) on the table, the race will soon be on south of the border to secure some of the clean-energy cash expected to flow out of the Inflation Reduction Act which Democrats hope to pass this coming week.

    “Green banks” are one way that the Biden administration intends to distribute the billions of dollars that are meant to accelerate the adoption of solar, wind, geothermal and other forms of renewable energy.

    They are quasi-public entities that aim to attract private investment to small-scale green energy projects, such as residential solar installations, energy-efficient building retrofits and various forms of electrification.

    Part of what green banks say they bring to the table is staff with the technical know-how to assess the viability of projects. That was something that attracted the D.C. solar contractor Flywheel Development when it went through D.C. Green Bank to finance a solar roof on a rental building in a low-income neighbourhood in the city’s northwest.

    “Their base level of knowledge is just so much higher,” said Flywheel’s co-founder Jessica Pitts. “Lenders that we’ve approached have had much less institutional knowledge in terms of the basics of how do you even fund solar … what are your sources of income and how does it even work?”

    The project cost about $132,500, with the green bank kicking in $80,000, the company $26,000 and a city renewable energy program providing the rest. A private lender and the green bank will co-finance the long-term loan that enables Flywheel to oversee the project for the length of the 15-year contract it has with the city and the property owner.

    The roof will produce an average of 25,000 kilowatt hours per year, enough to supply six households. In this case, the households it’s supplying are not actually in the building. The electricity generated is fed into the city’s grid and allocated to low- and moderate-income residents through a program called Solar for All that covers half their utility bill.

    Flywheel makes its money back by selling the electricity to the city and through solar energy credits, which sell for about $365 to $435 per megawatt hour in D.C., where utilities have to generate 10 per cent of their power from local solar sources by 2041.

    Read the Full Article Here

  • July 18, 2022
  • 5:00 pm
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    DC Green Finance Authority (“DC Green Bank”) will conduct a special meeting of the Board of Directors, pursuant to the Open Meetings Act, (DC Official Code §2-574(1)).

    Pre-registration is required.

    Special Meeting of the DC Green Bank Board of Directors

    July 18, 2022
  • July 14, 2022
  • 8:00 am
  • DC Water Headquarters - 1385 Canal Street Southeast Washington, DC 20003
  • Register Here
    All participants must be registered in order to attend

    Join our CEO Eli Hopson next week to talk about a critical issue facing our region and our city: GRID MODERNIZATION.

    AEG WASHINGTON STAKEHOLDER CHALLENGE
    Q3:Grid Modernization
    When: July 14th @ 8:00am – 12:30pm CT

    Location: DC Water Headquarters, 1385 Canal Street Southeast, Washington, DC 20003

    ABOUT:
    Four invited speakers present a critical obstacle that needs collaboration and a near term solution: “Regarding Grid Modernization, to achieve Washington D.C’s Carbon & Equity goals, a critical obstacle to collaboratively overcome within the next 12 month is __________.”

    Participants vote on which speaker has articulated the most urgent obstacle. Invited participants are strategically placed into breakout tables to compete on developing a 12 month solution to the selected obstacle. An AEG Task Force is formulated to carry out the selected 12 month solution.

    AGENDA:
    8:00am – 8:30am NETWORKING BREAKFAST

    8:30am – 8:45am WELCOME AND OPENING REMARKS

    David Gadis, Chief Executive Officer & General Manager, DC Water
    Tommy Wells, Director, Department of Energy & Environment
    Emile Thompson, Chairman, District of Columbia Public Service Commission
    8:45am – 10:00am SPEAKER CHALLENGE

    Kishia Powell, Chief Operations Officer, DC Water
    Eli Hopson, Chief Executive Officer, DC Green Bank
    Alex Fisher, Acting Senior Policy Advisor, Department of Energy & Environment

    10:00am – 10:15am TASK FORCE UPDATES

    10:15am – 11:45am BREAKOUT SESSION CHALLENGE

    11:45am – 12:30pm CONCLUSION W/ NETWORKING

  • July 13, 2022
  • 7:00 pm
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    DC Green Bank is hosting a public virtual event exclusively for Ward 7 – political leaders and staff, residents, small and large businesses, developers, contractors, property owners, homeowners and community associations, community-serving organizations and all who make Ward 7 a special place to live. We believe it is important to have a space for these types of conversations to take place that allows for more focused and tailored discussions for the unique needs of your Ward.

    Virtual Conversation Details

    When: July 13 at 7 pm
    Where: Zoom Virtual Meeting Platform
    Who: Ward 7 leaders, residents, small and large businesses, developers, contractors, property owners, homeowners and community associations, community-serving organizations, and all others that serve this great community
    What: Learn more about DC Green Bank, the services and support we offer, how to access affordable loans that will save you money and control your energy bills, and much more

     
    Event Invite
     

    Ward 7 Virtual Community Meeting and Listening Session

    July 13, 2022
  • July 20, 2022
  • 7:00 pm
  • Zoom
  • Registration Closed
    Attendees must register on Zoom to participate.

    DC Green Bank is hosting a public virtual event exclusively for Ward 8 – political leaders and staff, residents, small and large businesses, developers, contractors, property owners, homeowners and community associations,community-serving organizations and all who make Ward 8 a special place to live. We believe it is important to have a space for these types of conversations to take place that allows for more focused and tailored discussions for the unique needs of your Ward.

    Virtual Conversation Details

    When: July 20 at 7 pm
    Where: Zoom Virtual Meeting Platform
    Who: Ward 8 leaders, residents, small and large businesses, developers, contractors, property owners, homeowners and community associations, community-serving organizations, and all others that serve this great community
    What: Learn more about DC Green Bank, the services and support we offer, how to access affordable loans that will save you money and control your energy bills, and much more

    Event Invite

    Ward 8 Virtual Community Meeting and Listening Session

    July 20, 2022

    By Aysha Khan, Next City

    Washington, D.C. just finished installing its first solar shingle project through the district’s Solar for All program for low-income residents.

    The new installation at Rock Creek Ford is one of nearly 200 community solar installations underway as part of Solar for All, a Department of Energy & Environment program aiming to provide solar energy installations for 100,000 D.C. residents over the next decade. Participants can expect their energy bills to be halved over 15 years, the program says.

    The new Rock Creek Ford project is the first in the District to use solar shingles by SunStyle. These shingles not only generate electricity like a traditional solar panel, they also function as a durable roofing material. The Swiss company’s solar shingles have been installed on hundreds of projects in Europe, from residences to government buildings, as well as on Google’s new campus in Mountain View, California.

    This new solar roof installation will provide enough energy for six low-income families in the District, developers said in a news release. Through community solar projects like these, income-eligible residents can “subscribe” to a portion of the power produced by these community renewable energy facilities to receive a partial credit on their electric bill.

    As we wrote last year in our explainer on green banks: “Green banks state-sponsored entities that use their dedicated funding sources to make loans, provide credit enhancements or use other financial mechanisms to encourage private investment in clean and renewable energy.” Read more about how the D.C. Green Bank is incentivizing investment in community solar projects for marginalized communities.

    The Rock Creek Ford installation was done by local solar developer Flywheel Development, which since 2019 has completed two dozen Solar for All community solar installations and will complete another 11 this year.

    “Projects like this one are important not only because they help reduce our environmental footprint and provide a clean energy source, they also act as a model for how communities can benefit and participate in the green economy,” Flywheel said in its announcement of the project’s completion.

    Read the Full Article Here

    By K Kaufmann, RTO Insider

    WASHINGTON — The “dragonscale” solar shingles that are powering Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOGL) massive eco-friendly campus in California’s Silicon Valley will soon also be pumping out electrons from the much smaller rooftop of a multifamily building in D.C., while cutting electric bills in half for about a half-dozen low-income families in the city.

    The 21-kW installation in a residential neighborhood is the newest community solar project in D.C.’s Solar for All program, which to date has halved electric bills for about 6,600 households across the city. It is also the city’s first solar shingle project, hailed by local officials and the project developers who turned out on a rainy Monday afternoon to cut a symbolic green ribbon in front of the building.

    “This project represents not just another solar installation; it’s emblematic of where we see the future of the sustainable built environment going,” said Jessica Pitts, co-founder and principal at Flywheel Development, the D.C.-based developer that built the project. “It is the beginning of a transformation away from sustainable infrastructure being extra, being in addition to the materials of yesterday, and a move toward a future where sustainability is truly integrated into our surroundings, into our homes, into our buildings and becomes part of the fabric of our communities.”

    For City Councilmember Janeese Lewis George, the project reflects the moral commitment local officials in the nation’s capital have made in the face of the “devastating climate crisis that threatens every facet of our lives.”

    “We have a moral responsibility to revolutionize our energy,” Lewis George said. “We have a moral responsibility to break barriers by making green energy inclusive and accessible for everyone through programs like Solar for All, and we have a moral responsibility to collaborate across agencies, communities and the private sector to make it all happen.”

    And for projects like the solar shingle roof, DC Green Bank, founded in 2018, helps fill funding gaps, said Brandi Colander, the bank’s board chair. “We take on the hard stuff; we take on the innovative stuff … that others were not quite sure they wanted to make a bet on,” Colander said at the ribbon cutting. “We are investing in helping people figure out how to navigate the system so they can make more pioneering investments like the one we have standing before us today.”

    In the past three years, the bank has provided funding for a series of Flywheel projects, said Eli Hopson, the bank’s CEO. “It’s harder for smaller organizations like Flywheel to find [funding],” Hopson said. “They had done smaller projects, but they hadn’t done anything at [a larger] scale.”

    Read the Full Article Here

    (Washington, D.C.) – Today, the DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU), DC Green Bank, Flywheel Development, and SunStyle, alongside Ward 4 Councilmember Janeese Lewis George and other District elected and government officials, celebrated the completion of the first solar shingle project under the District’s Solar for All program. The project is a community renewable energy facility (CREF or community solar) located in Ward 4 and is one of nearly 200 community solar installations that are part of Solar for All, which is designed to bring the benefits of solar to 100,000 income-qualified DC residents by 2032. The partners released a video today highlighting the new installation and the benefits these projects are bringing to the District.

    This community solar installation is the first of its kind in the Solar for All program and is also the first project in the DC area to use the SunStyle solar shingle. Solar shingles and roofing like SunStyle’s are unique in that they produce electricity like a traditional solar panel but also serve as the actual roofing material. This solar roof will produce enough electricity to serve six income-qualified DC families through Solar for All Community Solar subscriptions.

    Flywheel Development, a DC-based solar developer and participant in the Solar for All program since 2019, has worked closely with the DCSEU and DC Green Bank to make the project a reality. Since 2019, Flywheel has completed 24 Solar for All Community Solar installations and expects to complete another 11 working with both organizations this year.

    “The DCSEU and DC Green Bank are critical partners for these projects,” said Jessica Pitts, co-founder and CEO of Flywheel Development. “The incentives the DCSEU provides through the Solar for All program and the affordable financing provided by DC Green Bank enable us to build our business, bring solar to buildings where it may not have been an option, and to be a part of the District’s transformation to a clean energy economy.”

    DC Green Bank, established by DC Council and Mayor Muriel Bowser in 2018, has been working closely with Flywheel Development on Solar for All projects for the past two years to provide construction financing. To date, the DC Green Bank has committed more than $25 million in financing to support local businesses and advance the District’s clean energy, environment, and equity goals.

    “Flywheel brought us our first financing project back in 2020 and we are incredibly proud to continue to work with them to bring these Solar for All projects to life that will serve low- to moderate-income families here in DC,” said Eli Hopson, CEO of DC Green Bank. “DC Green Bank is a key piece of the puzzle to provide access to capital for smaller and growing companies, and we want to work with more businesses like Flywheel that are seeking to expand in sustainable industries across the city.”

    This year under Solar for All, the DCSEU, who manages the program on behalf of the District Department of Energy & Environment, is providing more than $11.5 million in incentives to local solar contractors and developers to install solar systems on single-family homes of income-qualified DC families, as well to develop larger community solar systems like this one in Ward 4. In total, this work is expected to help more than 2,600 income-qualified DC families cut their electricity bills by about 50 percent, up to $500 per year, for the next 15 years.

    “Solar for All is making a significant impact here in the District by creating opportunities for local contractors, creating jobs for District residents, and most importantly, creating lasting electricity bill savings for income-qualified DC families,” said Ted Trabue, Managing Director of the DCSEU. “Local contractors like Flywheel Development are bringing innovative technologies like this to the program and are critical to ensuring the District meets its clean energy and climate goals.”

     

    Read the Full Release Below 

    Press-Release-62722-Community-Solar-Ribbon-Cutting

    DC Green Bank Ribbon Cutting - Rock Creek Ford Solar for All Program

    June 27, 2022

    By Tristan Navera, Washington Business Journal

    D.C. Green Bank and the Latino Economic Development Center are committing $1 million to help small businesses and community organizations in some of the District’s most underserved neighborhoods make their properties more energy efficient.

    The Green Bank will lend $900,000 and LEDC has committed an additional $100,000 to fund “dozens of new solar installations and renewable energy retrofit projects” across Wards 5, 7, and 8, the organizations said in a joint statement.

    Loans will range between $25,000 and $250,000 and will be repaid in around 10 years. Eli Hopson, CEO of D.C. Green Bank, said the funding commitment will help keep these kinds of renewable projects going in the face of rising energy and financing costs.

    “Renewable energy and energy efficiency projects like those funded through this partnership will deliver immediate utility bill savings, increase cash flow for small businesses and community-serving organizations, and save them money over the long term,” Hopson said in a statement.

    The partnership may not end there. Emi Reyes, the CEO of LEDC, said the organizations have discussed teaming up to fund similar projects in the future.

     

    Read the Full Article Here