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Green Bank

State Green Bank OK’d

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $1 billion Green Bank has been given the green light by state regulators.

On Dec. 19, the state Public Service Commission approved $165.5 million in seed money for the Green Bank, which will be operated by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to provide Wall Street-style financing sources for renewable energy projects in the state.

Cuomo proposed the Green Bank as a way to bring more private sector capital into New York’s renewable energy economy, which relies heavily on subsidies from NYSERDA for everything from wind farms and solar electric installations to home energy audits. Using some public funds, the Green Bank also will tap money from banks and other private sources to create traditional financing products such as bonds and loans that developers can tap into instead of seeking one-time state subsidies.

NYSERDA collects roughly $700 million from electric and gas utility customers annually to fund its renewable energy subsidies, although large industrial users pay much of the expense.

The PSC approved taking $165.5 million in uncommitted funds from various NYSERDA programs to start the Green Bank. About $17 million will be used for administrative costs and program evaluation. Another $45 million is coming from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap-and-trade emissions program for power plants that New York is a part of.

NYSERDA will hire new staff to run the Green Bank. In November, Cuomo announced the hiring of Alfred Griffin of Citigroup Global Markets as president.

Cuomo’s plan had little opposition, although business groups had wanted the PSC to require NYSERDA to come up with a plan to reduce collections from utility customers. The PSC declined to make that a requirement. Environmental groups were also supportive of the Green Bank’s creation, believing it will be more effective than one-time subsidies.

“The move will encourage much-needed private sector investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency, create jobs, and ensure a more resilient and sustainable energy infrastructure,” Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp said.

lrulison@timesunion.com, 518-454-5504, @larryrulison ___

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