Forum discusses ways to grow green energy in state

(This story was written by Corey Ramsden, MD SUN Program Director)

Lenders, energy service contractors, solar developers, non-profits, elected officials, state and local government officials, and interested citizens filled a crowded conference room at the Crowne Plaza in Annapolis on Tuesday, December 8th to hear about the future of a Green Bank in Maryland. The Green Bank Forum, hosted by the Maryland Clean Energy Center (MCEC), was an all day meeting to discuss the results of the MCEC’s recent study entitled “Growing the Maryland Clean Energy Economy” and the next steps for making the Green Bank a reality in Maryland.

The Maryland General Assembly commissioned this study to evaluate the feasibility and impact of a Green Bank. Similar efforts in Connecticut and other states have successfully leveraged public dollars to bring in private investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy. Bryan Garcia, President and CEO of the Connecticut Green Bank spoke early in the day, describing the leverage they’ve achieved with their public dollars. In a few short years they’ve increased the private to public dollar ratio on investments made through the bank from 1 to 1 to an expected 10 to 1 in 2016.

The proposed Maryland effort focuses on several key financial solutions as well market development:

(Taken from “Growing the Maryland Energy Economy”, Maryland Clean Energy Center, 2015, http://mdcleanenergy.org/news/mcec-releases-final-green-bank-study-report)

(Taken from “Growing the Maryland Energy Economy”, Maryland Clean Energy Center, 2015, link)

For low-to-moderate income households, for example, this would mean the ability to access a loan or other financial instrument at terms for which they would qualify. In the absence of a good credit score, most market rate loan products are not available to these households, making it difficult for them to reduce their energy needs and bring their cost of energy into an affordable range. Myriam Tourneux of the Fuel Fund of Maryland, MD SUN’s Corey Ramsden, Nicole Steele from GRID Alternatives and Daniel Wallace of Power52 discussed these issues in the context of each organizations work on low-to-moderate income solar projects in a panel moderated by MCEC’s Kathy Magruder.

To get the Green Bank off the ground, MCEC is looking for $40M in seed capital in the next one to five years. The success of their efforts will hinge, in part, on whether MCEC can identify funding in support of the bank during the upcoming 2016 legislative session in Annapolis.