(Bill Sternberg is a veteran Washington journalist and former editorial page editor of USA Today.)
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Callaway Climate Insights) — Deep inside the new climate law enacted in August is a big-ticket item that has generated relatively little attention. The law creates a $27 billion greenhouse gas reduction fund, most of which appears headed for America’s first “national green bank” to finance clean-energy ventures.
Like regular banks, green banks expect to be paid back, but they have more access to public funding and more flexibility on repayment terms. Their loans are used to leverage private investments in solar power, heat pumps, electric vehicle chargers and other zero-emission projects, primarily at the community level.
The green-bank model has been considered successful in other nations, including Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom. In the United States, more than 20 states and municipalities have established their own green banks, which have combined nearly $2 billion in public money with more than $7 billion in private capital.
The $27 billion federal windfall could supercharge green bank lending, and it “will help vault the United States into a leadership role” by causing as much as $250 billion in total investment, says Raya Salter, founder of the Energy Justice Collective…
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