May 15, 2019

Alex Bergstein Leads Senate Passage of New Environmental Infrastructure Fund for CT Green Bank

HARTFORD — The state Senate today gave its approval to a bill championed by state Senator Alex Bergstein (D-Greenwich) that would allow Connecticut’s highly successful Green Bank to expand its current role of investing only in clean energy projects to include investments in a broader array of environmental projects, including land conservation, recycling, bio-digesters, electric vehicle charging stations, reforestation, and coastal resiliency.

Senate Bill 927, “AN ACT CREATING THE ENVIRONMENTAL INFRASTRUCTURE FUND WITHIN THE CONNECTICUT GREEN BANK,” passed the Senate on a 34-2 bipartisan vote and now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

“Connecticut’s Green Bank – the first one in the country – is a shining example of innovation and achievement. It has a stellar track record of taking our limited public funds and leveraging that six-fold with private funds to create $1.5 billion in investments, over 16,000 jobs, lower energy costs for homeowners, and prevent more than five million tons of carbon dioxide from entering our atmosphere, which reduces asthma and lowers health care costs,” Sen. Bergstein said. “Imagine if this track record of innovation and success was expanded to include recycling, zero-emission vehicle refueling, climate resiliency, land conservation, and other important projects.”

In 2011, Connecticut’s Green Bank became the first green bank in America. Since then, New York, Rhode Island and California have followed suit. Since its inception, the Connecticut Green Bank has invested $237 million in energy industry ratepayer funds (not state taxpayer money) to harness another $1.2 billion in private investment.

At its public hearing in March, SB 927 received support from a wide variety of environmental and municipal groups, including the Sierra Club of Connecticut, The Nature Conservancy, The Connecticut Council of Small Towns, and the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.

“This would facilitate more private investment in the Green Bank and environmental infrastructure projects,” testified Ann Gadwah, Chapter Chair of the Sierra Club of Connecticut. “In our current budget situation, more private investment in the Green Bank makes good financial sense and gives the Green Bank more flexibility for funding in these projects. It would also allow the Green Bank to use its bonding capability to provide access to additional low-cost and long-term financing. Again, it just makes good financial sense.”

“Connecticut’s small towns recognize the importance of protecting natural resources in our communities by preserving open space and watershed lands, addressing non-point source pollution, adopting recycling programs, and meeting state and federal environmental standards,” testified Betsy Gara, executive director of COST. “This will assist municipalities in complying with environmental standards and lessen the burden on the state’s property taxpayers.”