Could green bank in Nevada encourage clean-energy sector?

Las Vegas Sun
By Daniel Rothberg
June 17, 2016

Despite costs declin­ing over the past decade, installing a clean-ener­gy sys­tem or retro­fitting for ener­gy effi­cien­cy remains pro­hib­i­tive­ly expen­sive for many con­sumers and small busi­ness­es across the state. And that fact has led some leg­is­la­tors to con­sid­er a pio­neer­ing fix.

An ener­gy com­mit­tee this morn­ing will hear the results of a study exam­in­ing the via­bil­i­ty of a Neva­da green bank, a qua­si-pub­lic tool for issu­ing loans and bonds to help fund renew­able-ener­gy projects har­ness­ing every­thing from wind and solar to geot­her­mal poten­tial. The mod­el comes from green banks adopt­ed in six states, includ­ing Con­necti­cut, New York, Hawaii, Cal­i­for­nia, New Jer­sey and Rhode Island. While setups vary, these banks share one goal: to be a self-sus­tain­ing resource spurring invest­ment in renew­ables by home­own­ers and com­pa­nies strug­gling to pay for it.

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Nan­cy Pfund, whose San Fran­cis­co-based DBL Part­ners invests in clean ener­gy, said most of the com­pa­nies her firm invests in, like SolarCi­ty, are too large for green-bank fund­ing, though at least one com­pa­ny she works with has ben­e­fit­ed. But Pfund stressed that a green bank has to be part of a larg­er strat­e­gy around clean-ener­gy devel­op­ment.

No amount of mon­ey from a green bank is going to make the kind of dif­fer­ence (need­ed) with­out atten­tion to smart poli­cies that encour­age clean-ener­gy inno­va­tion,” Pfund said, cit­ing Nevada’s changes to rooftop-solar rates. “You can’t send a sig­nal out of one side of your mouth and then one sig­nal out of anoth­er side.”

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