Focused on the question of how to best leverage limited public dollars and maximize reductions in energy consumption and reduce greenhouse gases (GHG), Senator Kevin de Leόn, Chair of the Select Committee on Energy Efficiency, convened a hearing in Silicon Valley with local Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose). Experts from private capital and clean energy companies explored California’s opportunities to more effectively attain our goals to reduce GHG emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020. We will need several strategies toward a low-carbon economy with the demands for electricity and fuel increasing every year. California’s growing population, now 38 million, is expected to top 50 million by 2050.
In his opening remarks, Senator Beall said, “Silicon Valley is the home for the world’s brightest minds for technology and clean energy innovation. I am fortunate to be their elected representative and as the chairman of a budget committee that is crafting recommendations on clean energy strategies, I will take their ideas to the Senate.’’
Senator De León remarked, “We need to harness market forces to effectively reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and grow our economy.”
To learn from the success of states pursing Green Banks, Bryan T. Garcia, President and CEO of the Connecticut Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority, and Greg Hale, Senior Advisor in the Office of the Governor in New York, testified via Google Hangout and discussed tackling the challenge of high upfront costs for clean energy and efficiency upgrades.
Ken Berlin at Coalition for Green Capital testified as an expert on clean energy financing, “By using innovative financial tools, a California Green Bank will leverage private investment, so that each public dollar supports multiple dollars of private investment. Ultimately, this will create cheaper, cleaner, and more reliable energy at scale, and help the state achieve its ambitious greenhouse-gas reduction goals.”
Tom Vanderheiden, Senior Vice President of One Pacific Coast Bank and Lisa Hagerman, Ph.D., Director of Programs at DBL Investors, spoke of financial tools such as long-term and low interest rate loans, revolving loan funds, insurance products (such as loan guarantees or loan-loss reserves), and low-cost public investments, a Green Bank could use to catalyze private financing for low-carbon technologies to help bring energy retrofits, clean energy and transportation to scale.
Senator De León has introduced Senate Bill 1121 to help drive private investment into energy efficiency retrofit activity in California. The testimony of this hearing and the continued input from stakeholders will craft this legislation to multiply our limited public dollars and existing programs. This bill will be heard by the Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications later this spring.
At the hearing Tiffany Roberts representing the Legislative Analyst Office presented an overview of California’s existing clean energy programs.
Also there to testify from the clean energy finance sector were Dan Scripps, Senior Advisor, Energy Finance, Advanced Energy Economy; Brad Copithorne, Director, Clean Energy Financing Solutions, Environmental Defense Fund; Tim McRae, Energy Director, Silicon Valley Leadership Group; and Dan Adler, Managing Director, California Clean Energy Fund. Representing clean energy companies were Pat Romano, CEO, ChargePoint; Tom Bowen, Regional Director, Energy & Facility Services, McKinstry; and Tom Stepien, CEO, BoD, Primus Power.
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