National Climate Bank amendment added to House’s pro-solar infrastructure bill

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An amendment that would use public capital to stimulate private investment in investment in clean, renewable energy and emissions reduction projects was added to the House Democrats’ sweeping $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill. The House is expected to pass the full infrastructure package, known as the Moving Forward Act, tomorrow.

Congresswoman Debbie Dingell’s (D-MI) Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator amendment uses the exact same words as the National Climate Bank Act introduced in the House in December.

According to the amendment, the Sustainability Accelerator will be funded with $20 billion over six years. “To get to a clean economy by 2050, we need comprehensive efforts to spur innovation in the economy, technology, and society. [The Sustainability Accelerator] will serve as an important implementation tool to achieve this goal by publicly financing and stimulating private investments in clean, renewable energy projects, clean transportation, and support communities most affected by climate change,” said Dingell. According to a recent study, a national climate bank can create millions of jobs, especially in low and medium-income communities.

Money for job creation

In the last few months, Congress has authorized more than $3 trillion in coronavirus relief, but so far none of this money has been for job creation.

“It’s been a good idea for a long time, but it’s particularly vital now for job creation,” Jeffrey Schub, the executive director of the Coalition for Green Capital, a nonprofit that incubates and supports local clean energy finance institutions – Green Banks – to drive greater clean energy investment into existing and new markets. “Any climate plan for 2021 must, first and foremost, be about job creation and equity and climate justice,” Schub added.

The Republican-led Senate is expected to introduce some sort of Covid-19 relief or stimulus package when it reconvenes within the next two weeks, but whether anything akin to the Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator – formerly known as, and based on H.R.5416, the National Climate Bank Act – will be part of Senate plan is unclear.

Either way this is a huge milestone for the national green bank movement. “[It] puts the idea squarely on the blueprint for what Congress will push to pass in 2021,” Schub said. This morning the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis also included a National Climate Bank nonprofit in its action plan on how to solve the climate crisis while putting millions back to work.

The Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator is supported by the Solar Energy Industries Association, as well as many other industry association, financial institutions utilities, and state and local governments.