Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced March 15 that she is requesting funds from the D.C. Council to establish a green bank to aid the District’s clean energy efforts. This would make the District the first U.S. city to create a green bank.

Green banks are financial institutions that use public funds to help the private sector invest in energy-efficient technologies by providing loans, leases and other financial incentives to green energy businesses.

By using public funds, green banks are able to minimize private investment risk in order to incentivize a transition to clean energy.

Bowser plans to introduce green bank legislation to the City Council in the coming weeks, asking for $7 million next year to fund her proposal. This money would come from the District’s Renewable Energy Development Fund, which comes from residents’ tax dollars.

District Department of Energy and Environment Director Tommy Wells said the initiative will help unite private and public sector interests, making the District a more environmental city.

“I commend Mayor Bowser for introducing this innovative legislation,” Wells said in a press release March 15. “The D.C. Green Bank will pair private capital with public investment to more efficiently achieve our ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets and to further reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.”

Green banks have already been established across the United States in New York, Connecticut, California, Hawaii, Rhode Island and Maryland; however, no major U.S. city had set one up until now.

In a March 15 press release, Bowser said initiative is part of a larger plan to create a more energy-efficient District.

“We need to lead the way when it comes to protecting and preserving the environment,” Bowser said. “By creating a green bank, we will create more jobs for D.C. residents, which will allow us to continue our push for inclusive prosperity.”

Bowser also said this initiative is in line with her administration’s broader goal of creating a more environmentally friendly District. In 2016, Bowser launched the Climate Ready D.C. program, which suggested changes to District infrastructure and policy strategy to help make the District more resilient to the effects of climate change.

Councilmember Robert White (D-At Large) said he supports the project ahead of the introduction of the legislation.

“These investments will accelerate the use of green technology, which will in turn protect our environment and the health of our residents. It will also help put many residents to work with careers in a growing industry,” White wrote in an email to The Hoya.

Other councilmembers have not released public stances on the Green Bank proposal. The
Office of Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) said the chairman has no official stance on the Green Bank legislation yet. Other offices did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

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