Turning Millions of Dollars into Billions for Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency in Pennsylvania

How a Green Bank Could Help the State Affordably Meet Its Clean Power Plan Goals

Published Feb 3, 2016

HARRISBURG (February 4, 2016)–Creating a “green bank” in Pennsylvania could help the state affordably comply with new federal power plants rules by leveraging $135 million in public funds into $4.2 billion in private investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency over the next 15 years, according to an analysis released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

“The Clean Power Plan is the law of the land,” said Jeremy Richardson, senior energy analyst at UCS and co-author of the analysis. “States need to find ways to reduce carbon pollution as cost-effectively as possible to ensure minimal impact on consumers. Creating a green bank is one way to do this. Just ask neighboring New York.”

Green banks are state-funded financial institutions that use a pool of public funds and a suite of financial tools to attract a larger pool of private investments in clean energy projects. UCS analyzed the potential outcome of creating a green bank in Pennsylvania, based on the experiences of existing green banks and clean energy lending programs in New York, Connecticut and elsewhere. In addition to driving $4.2 billion in private funds, a green bank in Pennsylvania could:

  • Support the deployment of 780 megawatts (MW) of new solar power
  • Save homes and businesses $375 million on their annual electricity bills due to energy efficiency investments
  • Reduce Pennsylvania’s carbon emissions by 4.8 million tons per year—the equivalent of taking more than 930,000 cars off the road—or 11 percent of the emission reductions that Pennsylvania must achieve to comply with the Clean Power Plan

“We know Pennsylvania has to reduce its carbon emissions for the health of the state’s economy, residents and environment,” said Richardson. “But with the state also experiencing a budget crisis, it’s crucial to transition to a clean energy economy in a way that also ensures taxpayers see a sizeable return on their initial investment. Creating a green bank in Pennsylvania may be the best solution to this challenge.”