On June 7, 2018, FREE presented an assessment on the status and trends of green finance in the United States to the U.S. Congressional Bipartisan Climate Solutions. This bipartisan group of U.S. house of Representatives explores policies that address our changing climate, focusing particularly on economically attractive options. Our presentation informed the Caucus about the U.S. green finance market as a whole and about several innovative green finance applications in particular. To support the presentation and discussion, FREE drafted a memo for the Caucus members (see Policy Brief on Green Finance).
As part of the presentation, Dr. John Byrne showcased the performance of the Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU) in Delaware and our recent $15 million round of financing under the Pennsylvania Sustainable Energy Finance Program (PennSEF). Our research revealed that the 2012-2017 green finance market supported the investment of $54.8 billion in green infrastructure and other sustainable energy programs. In addition, the data shows a rapid acceleration with increasingly critical positions being awarded to infrastructure-scale finance vehicles like the SEU and PennSEF. Market projections show a continued acceleration in the green finance market which represents a promising trend for the future implementation of FREE programs.
The presentation also emphasized the interesting role street lighting (a main focus of the first round of investments under the PennSEF program) could play to accelerate the implementation of “smart cities” and the “internet of things”. As a public asset, street lights are ubiquitous throughout the urban fabric and are already connected to the electric grid and each other. Adding additional services to existing infrastructure when performing comprehensive energy saving measures could help improve resilience and active (energy) management. Smart public lighting, in this vein, could become a “backbone” that enables a wide range of other “smart city” applications such as hosting sensor networks and wireless communication for smart parking, incident detection, emergency response, etc. This is an opportunity that FREE will explore in more detail moving forward.
We would like to extend our appreciation to U.S. Representative Ryan Costello for being part of the innovative bipartisan caucus and listening to our ideas. In addition, we thank Evan Endres from The Nature Conservancy for organizing our attendance at the event and Alex Kragie (Coalition for Green Capital) and Charlene Heydinger (Texas PACE) for their presentations on innovative green finance vehicles.