CURE Innovation Commons to save energy costs through C-PACE program

Groton, CT (August 14, 2017) –  Using the Connecticut Green Bank’s innovative Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) program, CURE Innovation Commons (“The Commons”) has financed energy improvements that will save the laboratory incubator more than $1.7 million in energy costs over the 17-year life of the loan term.

The project at The Commons is a perfect example of how support from Connecticut Green Bank can advance green energy goals and expand our economy by investing in the jobs and technologies of the future.

“This green energy project is very important to us from a bottom line perspective, because of the long-term cost savings, but it is also vital in terms of our role in the community,” said Susan Froshauer PhD, President and CEO of CURE. “We are in the business of science and research, and we strive to lead by example when it comes to using the latest technology to improve the quality of life for those who work at our facilities and our neighbors in Groton.”

The Commons is one of Connecticut’s newest science and technology incubators for entrepreneurs, professionals, scientists, start-ups and growing companies to develop ideas and build businesses in a collaborative community setting. In addition to funds provided for renovations by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), The Commons used C-PACE to fund energy efficiency upgrades including the installation of new HVAC equipment and a high efficiency generator.

“We are committed to making green energy accessible to businesses throughout the state,” said Mackey Dykes, vice president of commercial, industrial and institutional programs at Connecticut Green Bank. “C-PACE allows nonprofit, commercial and industrial property owners to access financing for green energy projects and to pay off projects through a property assessment. Financial innovations like these make projects possible at properties like The Commons, where new ideas and innovations in science and technology are being incubated – creating an opportunity for new jobs and economic growth in the community.”

Since its creation in 2011, the Connecticut Green Bank has deployed more than $1 billion in capital to fund green energy projects in Connecticut. This investment helps Connecticut create jobs, meet carbon reduction goals and improve the state’s energy security.

 

 

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Ferazzoli Imports of New England (Galleria Stone) Adds Solar through C-PACE

Galleria Stone will reduce operating expenses and increase efficiency

 

Middletown, CT (August 1, 2017) – Ferazzoli Imports of New England, Inc., which conducts business as Galleria Stone, an importer, distributor and fabricator of tile and natural stone, is the most recent business to reduce their energy burden by installing a renewable energy source on their building through Connecticut Green Bank’s Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE), an innovative program that helps property owners access affordable, long-term financing for smart energy upgrades to their buildings.

Northeast Smart Energy LLC of Hartford will install a 125 kW solar photovoltaic (PV) system to the roof of the Galleria Design Center, located at 234 Middle Street in Middletown. The estimated annual energy cost savings exceeds $37,000.

“The C-PACE financing program is the smartest long-term solution for achieving our clean energy demands,” said Jerry Martorelli, owner of Galleria Design Center. “With C-PACE, we are able to reduce operation expenses and increase efficiency, all while making a measurable impact on the environment and surrounding community.”

Through C-PACE, a building owner can pay for green energy improvements over terms up to 25 years through a voluntary benefit assessment on their property tax bill. Building owners can secure long-term, low-interest capital to fund these energy improvements, with no up-front costs required. The program is structured so that the energy savings offset the benefit assessment – meaning positive cash flow for the business – and includes a technical review process that leaves building owners feeling confident in the predicted energy savings of their project.

This project is part of Connecticut Green Bank’s Energy on the Line program, funded through the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development’s Manufacturing Innovation Fund. Energy on the Line provides supplemental funds to eligible manufacturers who complete a qualifying green energy project using the C-PACE program.

“Manufacturers, who feel the burden of energy costs more than anyone, can realize substantial benefits from green energy projects,” said Mackey Dykes, vice president of commercial, industrial and institutional programs at Connecticut Green Bank. “C-PACE is a perfect fit for manufacturers, allowing them to take control of their energy costs and realize predictable positive cashflow. The solar project at Ferazzoli Imports is an excellent example of how green energy and C-PACE can improve a manufacture’s bottom line.”

For more information on Galleria Stone, please visit www.galleriastone.com, and for more information the Connecticut Green Bank, please visit www.ctgreenbank.com.

 

About Ferazzoli Imports

Ferazzoli Imports of New England Inc., now doing business as Galleria Stone, was incorporated in 1988 as an importer, distributor and fabricator of tile and natural stone. Originally located in North Haven, Connecticut, Galleria Stone relocated its corporate headquarters in June 2002 to the 100,000 square foot Galleria Design Center in Middletown, CT. The Galleria Design Center includes an expansive 30,000 square foot showroom, indoor natural stone gallery and a state-of-the-art fabrication plant that helps Galleria Stone continue the tradition of elegance, craftsmanship and efficiency for which it is best known.

 

About Northeast Smart Energy

Northeast Smart Energy was established in May of 2007 by its founders whose vision is rooted in their love for our planet. Northeast Smart Energy’s primary focus is to provide people with renewable and cost effective energy solutions that reduce our dependence on polluting sources of energy. Northeast Smart Energy is ready to help you do your part by reducing your environmental impact and leaving our planet in a condition of which our children would be proud.

 

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Connecticut Green Bank’s C-PACE Program Reaches $100 Million Milestone

State’s Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy program continues to be an economic development tool for Connecticut businesses

 

Rocky Hill, CT (July 24, 2017) – The Connecticut Green Bank announced its C-PACE (Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy) program has reached the milestone of $100 million in total closed project financing. The solar photovoltaic (PV) and energy efficiency projects, which vary in size and scope, are saving more than $9.29 million annually in energy costs for nearly 170 building owners across multiple sectors.

The Green Bank, which administers the C-PACE program, seeks to make green energy more accessible and affordable to commercial and industrial property owners by providing no money down long-term financing for meaningful energy upgrades to their buildings. C-PACE enables building owners to finance qualifying energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements through a voluntary assessment on their property tax bill. As the program grows, more Connecticut businesses can achieve lower energy costs. 

Reaching $100 million in closed project financing positions Connecticut’s program as a national leader. According to market data from PACENation, an industry group promoting Property Assessed Clean Energy, California is the only state to have closed a larger total sum of project financing for commercial PACE projects.

“Connecticut’s Green Bank has really been the national leader for C-PACE,” said David Gabrielson, the Executive Director of PACENation, the national non-profit that supports development of PACE programs nationwide. “The way they administer their program has really served as a great example for other program administrators throughout the U.S., and we congratulate the entire Green Bank team on this impressive milestone.”

The project that propelled the Green Bank over this milestone will be installed at Farmington Sports Arena (FSA). FSA is a 130,000-square foot modern indoor sports facility that is home to four indoor and three outdoor artificial turf fields as well as four natural grass outdoor fields. The project, which will be installed by 64 Solar, consists of two solar PV systems (170 kW total).

Since its inception in 2011, 166 C-PACE projects have been closed in 69 of the 128 municipalities that have opted-into the program. C-PACE funds have been used in manufacturing facilities, non-profits, houses of worship, retail establishments, office buildings, and other business entities.  The projects consist of solar installations, new boilers, energy efficiency lighting measures, HVAC systems, and other energy improvements that help building owners to take control of their energy costs. Connecticut’s C-PACE program maintains an open market approach, allowing private capital providers to finance projects for building owners, and, in 2015, the Green Bank reached an agreement that provided it access to up to $100 million in private funding for C-PACE projects. Today, nearly 70% of the funding in the program consists of private capital.

“The Connecticut Green Bank’s C-PACE program reaching the $100 million in closed project financing milestone is significant,” said Governor Dannel P. Malloy. “This achievement shows our state’s continued leadership in combating climate change while simultaneously supporting the business and non-profit sectors.”

This milestone was achieved through the efforts of many key stakeholders.

“The Connecticut Green Bank is a leader in the green energy movement, but the rapid growth of C-PACE wouldn’t be possible without the support of our contractors, capital providers, municipal officials, and other stakeholders who have contributed to the C-PACE movement,” said Mackey Dykes, Vice President of Commercial, Industrial and Institutional programs at the Connecticut Green Bank. “There is still significant potential for energy improvements for Connecticut businesses and non-profits, and we look forward to bringing cleaner and cheaper energy to more building owners across the state.”

The Connecticut Green Bank’s success, and that of the C-PACE program, has led to the Green Bank being used as a model for other states.

 

 

 

 

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Connecticut Green Bank Wins Harvard’s 2017 Innovations in American Government Award

Cambridge, MA (July 19, 2017) – The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, a leading research center at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, today named the Connecticut Green Bank the winner of the 2017 Innovations in American Government Award. The award, including a $100,000 grand prize to support the replication and dissemination of the initiative, will be presented at a ceremony in Hartford, Conn., later this summer. 

“It is an honor for the Connecticut Green Bank to be named the Ash Center’s Innovations in American Government Award recipient for 2017,” says Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy.  “As cities and states across this country confront climate change, green banks can help mobilize more private investment and accelerate the growth of their local green energy economies.”

Recognized by Harvard for its “Sparking the Green Bank Movement” nomination, the Green Bank is the first of its kind in the United States and continues to be a thought-leader in green financing innovation.  Established by Governor Malloy through bipartisan support from the Connecticut General Assembly in July of 2011, the green bank model demonstrates how public resources can be better invested in ways that mobilize private investment in local green economies. From greater deployment of green energy by local contractors, to lowering consumers’ energy burden, the Green Bank is committed to realizing a vision of inclusive prosperity through its charge to protect the environment.

“The Connecticut Green Bank is an exemplar of how states can meet their climate change reduction targets by working to leverage private-sector dollars to help finance green energy infrastructure,” said Stephen Goldsmith, Daniel Paul Professor of the Practice of Government and the Director of the Innovations in American Government Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. “The success of Connecticut’s Green Bank is spurring the adoption of similar efforts by states and cities across the country, and illustrates how Hartford’s innovative approach to green energy financing can create jobs, reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, and lower energy bills.”

Connecticut has been at the forefront of state-level efforts to combat the threat of global climate change. The state’s 2005 Climate Change Action Plan outlined a multitude of specific steps the state could take to help lower greenhouse gas emissions. The state built upon this ambitious plan with the passage of the landmark Connecticut Global Warming Solutions Act, establishing mandatory greenhouse gas reductions targets. The aggressive goals included a 10-percent reduction below 1990 levels by 2020 and an 80-percent reduction below 2001 levels by 2050. 

In creating a thriving clean energy market, the Green Bank is advancing a larger mission that not only makes green energy more accessible and affordable for Connecticut families and businesses, but also creates jobs and spurs local economic development. Since 2011, for every public dollar invested, the bank has attracted six dollars of private investment. An estimated 13,000 jobs have been created through the Green Bank, which has also driven a total of $1 billion of clean energy investment across the state. This translates to more than 215 megawatts of clean power, over 20,000 projects, and a reduction of CO2 emissions by 2.6 million tons. As for cost, clean energy prices have decreased by an estimated 20–30 percent. 

“The Connecticut Green Bank has sparked a green bank movement.  Our simple promise of increasing affordability and accessibility to green energy has evolved into a greater commitment to our stakeholders,” states Bryan Garcia, President and CEO of the Connecticut Green Bank.  “We believe that everything we do, we do to help families thrive and businesses grow.  We do it in the interest of achieving inclusive prosperity not only within Connecticut and across the country, but around the world.”

The Innovations in American Government Award is the nation’s preeminent recognition for excellence and creativity in the public sector. The award program receives thousands of applications which are evaluated on criteria to assess their novelty, effectiveness, significance, and transferability. The Ford Foundation created the Innovations in American Government Awards in 1985 in response to widespread pessimism and distrust in government’s effectiveness. 

Since its inception, over 500 government innovations across all jurisdiction levels have been recognized and have collectively received more than $22 million in grants to support dissemination efforts. 

Additional Resources

About the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation

The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation advances excellence in governance and strengthens democratic institutions worldwide. Through its research, education, international programs, and government innovations awards, the Center fosters creative and effective government problem solving and serves as a catalyst for addressing many of the most pressing needs of the world’s citizens. For more information, visit www.ash.harvard.edu.

About the Connecticut Green Bank

The Connecticut Green Bank (formerly the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority) was established by the Connecticut General Assembly on July 1, 2011 as a part of Public Act 11-80. As the nation’s first full-scale green bank, it is leading the clean energy finance movement by leveraging public and private funds to scale-up renewable energy deployment and energy efficiency projects across Connecticut. The Green Bank’s success in accelerating private investment in clean energy is helping Connecticut create jobs, increase economic prosperity, promote energy security and address climate change. 

 

 

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Connecticut Green Bank Among Seven Finalists for Prestigious National Award

Chosen from more than 500 Nominations for the Ash Center’s Innovations in American Government Award

 

Rocky Hill, CT (May 16, 2017) – The Connecticut Green Bank was recently named as one of seven finalists in this year’s Innovations in American Government Awards competition. The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, made the announcement and will host the competition for the $100,000 grand prize in Cambridge.

Recognized for its “Sparking the Green Bank Movement” nomination, the Green Bank was the first of its kind in the United States and has been a thought-leader in green financing innovation since being established in July of 2011. The Green Bank Movement demonstrates how public resources can be better invested in ways that attract more private investment in our communities, lead to deployment of more green energy by local contractors, and most importantly providing positive value to consumers.

 “We created the Connecticut Green Bank in 2011 to accelerate the deployment of clean energy in our state in order to promote energy security and economic growth, create new jobs in the clean energy sector, and address climate change,” Governor Malloy said. “Making clean energy more affordable and accessible to consumers by leveraging limited public funds to attract private capital investment is a way that we can make our own positive impact in the global climate change efforts.”

This is only the third time a Connecticut initiative has been honored since the inception of the American Government Awards in 1985. In that time, more than 27,000 nominations have been submitted, with nearly 500 initiatives recognized including from Connecticut the Hartford Action Plan on Infant Health (1986 Finalist) and Supportive Housing Pilot (2006 Winner).

“The Connecticut Green Bank has sparked a green bank movement that is leading to local, state, and national government consideration of public-private partnerships to scale-up clean energy deployment that wisely and strategically uses public resources,” stated Reed Hundt, Founder and CEO of the Coalition for Green Capital, the non-profit organization that nominated the Green Bank.

 Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in Government program at the Ash Center, called the recognized programs “the vanguard of creative, solution-oriented governing, demonstrating that the drive to make government work better and do more comes from all levels and jurisdictions of every size. These programs are focused on an impressive range of areas and some of the country’s most pressing social concerns, including the opioid epidemic, government efficiency and efficacy, environmental conservation, homelessness, and the school and workforce readiness of our citizens.”

 “The Connecticut Green Bank is helping consumers and small businesses lower their energy cost burden by providing them with access to capital to finance clean energy improvements on their property,” stated Catherine Smith, Chair of the Connecticut Green Bank and Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development.  “On behalf of the Board of Directors, we want to recognize all of the finalists in this Ash Center competition, including our Connecticut team.  It is terrific to see these government-based innovations now being recognized by this esteemed panel of judges.”

 The Green Bank will compete before a National Selection Committee for the distinction of being the Innovations Award winner.

To learn more about the top programs in this year’s Innovations in American Government Awards competition, please visit https://ash.harvard.edu/news/ash-center-announces-finalists-and-top-25-programs-innovations-american-government-award. The presentations by the finalists will be livestreamed on Wednesday, May 17 on the Ash Center website at http://ash.harvard.edu.

 Supportive Quotes from Connecticut’s General Assembly

  • “The Connecticut Green Bank is a national model for green financing innovation,” said Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk). “This is further recognition that the Connecticut Green Bank has the set standard for attracting private investment in green, sustainable projects.”

  • “In this time of highly competitive public dollars, the Green Bank has been a great partner in utilizing public-private partnerships to increase energy efficiency programs throughout our state. I applaud the Green Bank for its leadership and ingenuity in moving our state to a more energy efficient future,” said Senator Paul Formica (R-East Lyme), Co-Chair of the Energy and Technology Committee.

  • “This nomination is a testament to the effective and innovative work they have been able to accomplish since their creation in 2011,” said Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz (D-Berlin/Southington). “In six short years the Connecticut Green Bank has put Connecticut on the map as a leader in the clean energy finance movement. They are an invaluable asset to our state, and it is great to see their hard work recognized at the national level.”

  • “It is no surprise to me that the Green Bank is among the few finalists being considered for the Innovations in American Government Awards,” said Representative Laura Hoydick (R-Stratford), Ranking Member of the Legislature’s Energy and Technology Committee. “The Connecticut Green Bank has been a leader in making businesses, cities, towns and homes more energy efficient, leading to lower overall energy costs for all.  They have a proactive model that promotes innovation, and other states would do well to look at their successes and emulate their work.”

  • “The Green Bank combines innovative thinking with prompt action to solve problems and produce real world results,” said State Representative Lonnie Reed (D-Branford), House Chair of the Energy and Technology Committee. “It demonstrates daily how government can and must play a vital role if we are to truly confront challenges and get things done. I feel incredibly proud that our first in the nation Green Bank continues to earn such national recognition and acclaim.”

 

About the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation

The Roy and Lila Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation fosters excellence in government around the world in order to generate and strengthen democracy.  Through its awards program, its research, publications, and curriculum support, and its global network, the Ash Center champions critical milestones in creative and effective governance and democratic practice.  By highlighting exemplary government programs, by generating and supporting research and curriculum materials, and by engaging a broad, global community in which knowledge is shared, the Center serves as a catalyst for successfully addressing many of the world’s most pressing concerns and, in turn, improving the lives of its citizens.

The Ash Center is housed at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

 

About the Innovations Program

The Innovations in American Government Program identifies and promotes creative problem solving in the public sector through a national awards program that confers broad public recognition and monetary grants on innovative government programs.  Since its inception in 1985, the Program has recognized over 500 innovative programs (from more than 27,000 nominations), which have received over $22 million in grants.  The Ford Foundation is the founding donor of the Innovations in America Government Program.

 

About the Connecticut Green Bank

The Connecticut Green Bank was established through bipartisan support of the Connecticut General Assembly on July 1, 2011 as a part of Public Act 11-80. As the nation’s first full-scale green bank, it is leading the clean energy finance movement by leveraging public and private funds to scale-up renewable energy deployment and energy efficiency projects across Connecticut. The Green Bank’s success in accelerating private investment in clean energy is helping Connecticut create jobs, increase economic prosperity, promote energy security and address climate change. For more information about the Connecticut Green Bank, please visit www.ctgreenbank.com.

 

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Connecticut Green Bank Strengthens Commitment to Low-Income Residents

A recent blog by experts at the Center for Market Innovation (Managing Director Yerina Mugica and Welch Environmental Innovation Fellow Sarah Dougherty), posted by the the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), featured the appointment of Betsy Crum to the Connecticut Green Bank Board of Directors and highlighted the importance the Green Bank places on maintaining and creating relationships in the affordable housing sector. At the Women’s Institute for Housing and Economic Development, Ms. Crum, who is their Executive Director, focuses on developing housing for individuals coming out of homelessness and those earning up to 50 percent of area median income. 

To read the article and learn more about current Green Bank’s initiative for low-income residents, please click here.

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New England Hydropower Energizes First Archimedes Screw Turbine site in U. S.

Financed by the Connecticut Green Bank, the green, fish friendly project to provide renewable electricity to the City of Meriden, CT

 

MERIDEN, CT (April 27, 2017) — New England Hydropower Company, LLC (NEHC) announced today that it has energized the first Archimedes Screw Turbine generation facility in the United States at the Hanover Pond project in Meriden, Connecticut. The facility, financed with a combination of public and private capital via the first official “Green Bond” issued by the Connecticut Green Bank (Green Bank), is expected to generate 920,000 kWh of electricity annually to Meriden under a long-term agreement with the City.

NEHC was given approval to energize to the Eversource distribution system in the first quarter of 2017. This follows electrical interface and controls integration, and a successful “witness” test establishing the project’s ability to provide power to the grid.

The Power Purchase Agreement with Meriden takes advantage of Connecticut’s virtual net metering regulations. As a qualified Class I renewable energy producer, the project participates in Connecticut’s Zero Emission Renewable Energy Credit Program (ZREC). These two state programs, when taken together with the Green Bank’s innovative use of federally supported New Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) to dramatically reduce the project’s capital costs, are now allowing the City of Meriden to benefit from lower cost energy while at the same time going green.

The modern AST integrates automated electronic monitoring, controls, and safety systems. It is a proven technology with over 100 generating systems in Europe and the UK derived in concept from the ancient world.

A primary environmental advantage of the run-of-river system is that it provides safe downstream fish passage in the slow rotating screw turbine with limited turbulence at the exit. Working with state and federal natural resource agencies, NEHC is conducting migratory and resident fish studies at the adjacent fish passage at Hanover Pond to augment highly successful studies in the UK.

“Our goal from the inception of the company,” said Michael Kerr, CEO and Founder, “was that success at Hanover Pond would lead the way to market acceptance of the Archimedes Screw Turbine technology in the U.S.” The company researched thousands of legacy dams from the industrial revolution to determine ownership, assess technical, regulatory and commercial viability.

“We believed from the outset that our work with regulatory agencies to understand their requirements and work toward streamlining our processes,” continued Kerr, “would be essential to improving our pathway to developing green energy in the small-scale hydro sector.”

Following the permitting process, NEHC mobilized for construction at the site in September 2016, and the sluiceway, powerhouse and Archimedes screw trough were all completed to accept machinery in December 2016 for operation in April 2017.

“When we started this project, we embarked on a journey with many challenges. This was not a large transaction by any of the typical measures – project cost, kilowatts, the footprint of the project – but its significance as an innovative financing solution can’t be overstated,” said Bert Hunter, EVP & Chief Investment Officer, Connecticut Green Bank. “Transformational projects like this hydropower initiative at Hanover Pond in Meriden require collaboration among many partners, including NEHC as developer and the team from Bank of America who led the bond structuring and purchase on their end.’

“Now that we’ve done this first one,” Hunter continued, “the Green Bank looks forward to future success in financing the development of more of Connecticut’s small-scale hydro resources.”

 

About NEHC: NEHC was formed in 2011 to develop, operate and own small-scale Archimedes Screw Turbine-based electric generation projects to support renewable, state and federal green energy objectives. The company provides the U.S. renewable energy market with a proven, environmentally sound, fish-friendly technology. For more information, please visit: www.nehydropower.com

 

About the Connecticut Green Bank: The Connecticut Green Bank was established by the Connecticut General Assembly on July 1, 2011 as a part of Public Act 11-80. As the nation’s first full-scale green bank, it is leading the clean energy finance movement by leveraging public and private funds to scale-up renewable energy deployment and energy efficiency projects across Connecticut. For more information, please visit: www.ctgreenbank.com

 

 

 

Media contacts:

NEHC

Chris Conover

860-729-9767

[email protected]

 

Connecticut Green Bank

Rudy Sturk

[email protected]

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Connecticut Green Bank a Semifinalist for Harvard’s Innovation in Government Award

January 18, 2017 – Cambridge, MA – The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, recognized today more than 60 innovative government programs as part of the 2017 Bright Ideas initiative. This year’s cohort includes programs from all levels of government — school districts, county, city, state, federal agencies, and tribal nations, as well as public-private partnerships — that represent the next horizon in government work to improve services, solve problems, and work on behalf of citizens. Read full Article

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Kresge invests $3 million in Connecticut Green Bank to support solar generation and storage in affordable housing

First round of Kresge Community Finance loans provides $14 million to six CDFIs, DFAs

December 18, 2016 – The Kresge Foundation announced today $14 million in investments to six Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs) and Development Finance Agencies (DFAs) working to expand opportunity for low-income people in America’s cities through an initiative called Kresge Community Finance (KCF).

KCF invited proposals from qualifying CDFIs and DFAs working in American cities on projects that align with Kresge’s strategic priorities in six program areas – Arts & Culture, Education, Health, Human Services, Environment and Detroit.

Kresge Community Finance wordmarkMore than 130 organizations submitted proposals for funding, representing more than $280 million in capital requests. The resulting investments from Kresge’s Social Investment Practice pair standardized loans, available for up to 10 years, with small operating grants.

Program-related investments made in the first round of Kresge Community Finance funding include:

  • $3 million to Reinvestment Fund to support creative placemaking efforts in Baltimore, Atlanta and New Orleans.
  • $3 million to Connecticut Green Bank to support the installation of solar generation and storage systems in affordable housing and other community facilities in Connecticut’s urban and coastal communities.
  • $1 million to the Cooperative Fund of New England to support the development of resident/member-owned and managed cooperative housing, and healthy food retail projects in cities in Southern New England.
  • $3 million to Enterprise Community Loan Fund for the equitable revitalization of the Jefferson-Chalmers Corridor in Detroit’s East Jefferson neighborhood.
  • $3 million to Boston Community Capital in support of its collaboration with MassDevelopment, Massachusetts’ economic development and finance authority, to finance mixed-use projects in Massachusetts cities pursuing community-led placemaking redevelopment.
  • $1 million to Capital Impact Partners in support of its partnership with the Memphis Medical District Collaborative to finance and promote community development, residential density and walkability.

In total, the Foundation plans to award up to $30 million in financing and up to $1.5 million in grants through KCF to at least 15 organizations. Additional investments through KCF will be announced in 2017.

“We wanted to test the demand for a standardized product of patient capital for CDFIs and DFAs,” said Joe Evans, the foundation’s portfolio manager, Social Investment Practice, “and to demonstrate to other investors an efficient approach to meeting the capital needs of low-income communities.”

Kresge’s Social Investment Practice uses a variety of financial tools to invest in projects that bring both a social and financial return. The foundation has committed to investing $350 million in social investments by 2020.

“To move that amount of money, we wanted to explore innovative ways of sourcing and funding a large pipeline of investments that advance our mission, while balancing risk and portfolio construction considerations,” said Kimberlee Cornett, Kresge’s managing director, Social Investments Practice. “The demand for KCF proved to us that there is a market for this type of product, and we’re thrilled to partner with and support so many important efforts that will improve opportunity for thousands of low-income people.”

CDFIs are private nonprofits that leverage private sector investment to provide financing and technical assistance for a range of community development activities, including job creation, small business development, housing and other community development.

DFAs are public, private and non-profit development entities that provide financing for programs that foster job creation and economic development with a focus on growing housing and employment opportunities in low income communities.

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Does Connecticut’s Green Bank Hold the Secret to the Future of Clean Energy?

With the goal of getting clean energy development less dependent on government funds, the state’s Green Bank may be the model for success in a Trump presidency.

 

By Jan Ellen Spiegel, InsideClimate NEWS

 

ROCKY HILL, Conn. (Dec. 12, 2016) —Bryan Garcia, president of the Connecticut Green Bank, said he knew five years ago when it was created that it would be an important model for funding clean energy projects.

He didn’t know it might become critical for funding them.

In the face of a Donald Trump presidency that dismisses climate change and threatens to ignore its solutions, the future of clean energy may rely heavily on new approaches like the ones pioneered by the Connecticut Green Bank, the first-ever statewide one. The bank’s mission is to leverage limited public money into even more private investment in clean energy so eventually there is no need for public money. That would create jobs, lower energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“The green bank model may be an attractive tool under a Trump presidency,” Garcia said. “Public-private partnerships like ours spur investment in local clean energy economies that create jobs and ultimately mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.”

The Connecticut bank said it has surpassed $1 billion in money put in play—some for loans, other money for default security— with an average of $6 in private funding created from every $1 in public money. It has designed a dozen or more clean energy and efficiency financial products, programs and marketing efforts. Best known is its heralded Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy, C-PACE, program that is transforming how commercial properties finance clean energy and energy efficiency improvements.

The bank says it has created nearly 215 megawatts of clean power across more than 20,000 projects, the equivalent of nearly 13,000 jobs directly for clean energy companies and other businesses that benefit from clean energy, and saved more than 2.6 million tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted.

Initially the private banking community saw the bank as competition, but has come around so much that two early popular programs are now run solely by private banks. Officials say several private companies have launched specifically because of opportunities created by the bank’s success.

“Our goal is to be catalytic,” Garcia said. “These problems aren’t going to be solved by taxpayers and ratepayers. These problems are going to be solved by bringing more private investment into the clean energy economies.”

“It’s exceeded all expectations,” said Reed Hundt, the founder and chief executive of the nonprofit Coalition for Green Capital. Hundt, a former commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission under President Bill Clinton, sits on the Connecticut Green Bank board of directors.

The green bank idea was hatched by Hundt and Dan Esty, a Yale University professor specializing in business, law and the environment and a former EPA official, while both were working on President Obama’s transition team.

Esty had long espoused the concept that clean energy and combating climate change could create new businesses and jobs. In 2011, he became commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Green Bank was born.

“Your goal is to get people into the real market where they can operate without government support or subsidy,” said Esty, who is no longer commissioner. He believes industry, not government, should pick technologies. “The key role of government was to de-risk the flow of funds into clean energy.”

The bank replaced the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund, a quasi-governmental organization funded by $27 million annually in electricity ratepayer fees given out as rebates.

The bank still gets those ratepayer fees along with just under a quarter of the state’s proceeds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative auctions and periodic federal government and nonprofit grants.

But now that money is used mostly for loans and other mechanisms to draw private investment.

Growing Pains

Garcia and Bert Hunter, a veteran banker hired as the bank’s chief financial officer, learned early they would have to more than just show up with money to get private banks to work with them. They would have to invent programs; explain to banks, developers and contractors how they would work; market the programs and financial products; and invest so others could see the bank wasn’t afraid to risk its own money.

“Our role is to get things started,” Hunter said.

It worked.

David Cantor, senior vice president and business banking team leader for First Niagara, recently purchased by KeyBank, said Hunter smoothed the way for his bank to invest in a commercial solar lease financing program as a first foray into clean energy financing. His bank has now committed more than $17 million to the program.

“They would come to us and they would say ‘here’s project X,'” he said. “‘We’ll provide a guarantee or we’ll provide some financing behind you or we’ll make sure we’ll facilitate the contracts.'”

The experience made them confident enough to finance a small hydro project and an anaerobic digester in Connecticut and solar projects in Massachusetts and New York.

Webster Bank had also never done clean energy financing before it got involved with a 1.4 megawatt fuel cell installation. The Bank walked Webster through the basics of clean energy, fuel cells, third-party ownership and kicked in 20 percent of its own money to buy down what Webster had to finance.

“Without the grant,” said Carolyn Morrison, Webster’s vice president for commercial banking, “We might not have financed the full value.”

Something for Everyone, Almost

The most versatile of the bank’s products is the Smart-E loan, a low-interest, all-purpose clean energy and energy efficiency loan for homeowners.

Across the state, 10 community banks and credit unions handle the loans. They can be used to purchase solar systems, install insulation and windows and even convert from oil to natural gas heat.

“Once we understood the nature of how it was going to work,” said Brian Skarda senior vice president for residential and consumer lending at Union Savings Bank, “it really didn’t take much convincing at all.”

For every dollar the Green Bank has put into the Smart-E loan program, banks like Union Savings have contributed $10, the most dramatic leverage rate in the Green Bank’s portfolio.

The Bank also started two residential solar-specific loans, one for purchases and one for leases. The lease loans have now migrated to private leasing companies only, such as SolarCity. One purchase loan program also migrated to the private sector, helping a Massachusetts startup called Sungage Financial survive.

After a terrible experience trying to find a loan for a solar system on her own home, Sungage founder Sara Ross took an idea to the Green Bank: base the loan on long-term electricity savings, not equity in the home itself. The pilot project produced 280 loans worth nearly $6 million. Sungage’s loan program has been scooped up by Digital Federal Credit Union and now operates in seven states.

Finding the Green Bank, Ross said was “like winning Megabucks.”

A Wider Success Story

Property assessed clean energy (PACE) programs provide loans for clean energy and efficiency upgrades that can be paid back through assessments on property tax bills. Connecticut’s C-PACE isn’t the first of these; 25 states already had something similar, but the Green Bank perfected it for commercial properties.

It’s designed so the energy savings more than cover the loan—which can be for 100 percent of the cost with payback over up to 20 years. If the property is sold, the remaining loan goes with it. The bank partnered with the clean energy financing group Hannon Armstrong to provide $100 million for the program.

But what the bank did more than anything was work out a compromise over who would get paid back first if the property owner defaulted on the loan, a problem for many PACE programs. So far, the bank has been successful in getting 124 of the Connecticut’s 169 municipalities, accounting for 95 percent of the state’s commercial and industrial space, to agree to use C-PACE.

More than 150 projects worth about $95 million have been financed through C-PACE.

“C-PACE really made us able to tackle big energy savings projects that would have been far outside our ability,” said Brett Wilderman of Forstone Capital, who said the savings are even higher than anticipated on the two projects his firm launched.

Providing a Model

The bank also finally found success in the hard-to-crack low-income market by partnering with PosiGen, a solar company created in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. In less than two years, it has installed more than 500 systems in Connecticut, impressing chief executive Tom Neyhart so much, he’s moved his northeast base to the state.

Many like Neyhart see the bank as a model for other states, only a few of which have any form of green bank, and as the backbone for a national green or infrastructure bank.

“The circumstances in each state will be different,” said Dan Reicher, the executive director of the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance at Stanford University. He considers Connecticut C-PACE among the top clean energy finance models, but while he called green banks a good model, he noted that needs, political leadership and utility regulations can differ radically from state to state.

But there are lessons for other states from Connecticut, Esty said. Those include a solid legal framework, a bipartisan policy backbone from government that doesn’t dictate all the specifics, attention for the concerns of all participants. But lesson number one, he said is, “Change is really hard to deliver even when the status quo plainly is not working. There will be opposition.”

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