California state funding has created a harvest cornucopia of clean energy programs ranging from solar energy for low income housing to familiarization test drives of electric vehicles. But each state agency has its own set of rules about who can get funding, what kind of matched private funding may be necessary, and how to go about getting access to the funds.
To combat the various silos of information that these clean energy agencies have created, and to streamline pubic-private partnerships in clean energy, the California Assembly recently began hearings on a proposed bill — AB 383 — to create the Clean Energy Financing Clearinghouse (CEFC).
The bill would specify functions that the Clean Energy Financing Clearinghouse is to perform with respect to cross-agency coordination, partnering with market actors, and partnering with capital providers, explains Advanced Energy Economy (AEE).
The CEFC would be overseen by the state Treasurer’s Office, “as a central coordinating entity for the state’s advanced energy funding programs and mobilizing public-private partnerships to scale advanced energy investments and technology deployment,” reads one summary. “In addition to attracting additional private capital to match public dollars, this bill strives to bust information silos,” the analysis adds.
Introduced on February 5th by Laura Friedman, D-Dist. 43, and Chad Mayes, R-Dist. 402, AB383 – titled “Clean Energy Financing Clearinghouse,” was amended on April 11th, and referred on April 24th to the Assembly Committee on Appropriations (APPR).
Existing California law establishes various state programs pertaining to energy technologies that advance environmental protection goals, including renewable energy resources, energy efficiency, energy conservation, weatherization, energy storage, distributed generation, and transportation electrification and other low-emission transportation technologies, observes AEE.
The proposed Clean Energy Financing Clearinghouse would coordinate all government programs that invest capital in clean energy technologies that advance environmental protection goals; make program information clear and accessible for market participants; and partner with capital providers, investors, project developers, technology companies, and other market actors to catalyze more private investment into clean energy technologies that advance environmental protection and environmental justice goals, AEE explains.
The bill would mandate that among financial coordination goals, the CEFC “shall consult and coordinate with the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission, the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank, the Treasurer, the Public Utilities Commission, and other relevant governmental entities to achieve the purposes and functions described in this section.”
Similarly, in terms of information coordination, the bill states that the CEFC will “Create a central information resource that is both internal and external facing, so that market actors and government entities are fully aware of all the public resources and funding available for the deployment of clean energy technologies that advance environmental protection and environmental justice goals.”
To help avoid duplication of effort by potential beneficiaries of the state clean energy programs, the CEFC will also “Proactively identify areas of overlap or adjacency from existing public programs and facilitate coordination so that public funds are used at maximum effectiveness within a given clean energy technology project or market,” the bill reads.
To further develop public-private-partnerships, the bill also would “Solicit proposals from market actors for innovative business models and solutions to increase the deployment of clean energy technologies that advance environmental protection and environmental justice goals that rely on public resources, so that the Clean Energy Financing Clearinghouse acts as a facilitator between public agencies and the private sector to construct a cost-effective and marketable energy finance solution.”
The bill continues, “These business models and solutions may include, but are not limited to, novel approaches to deploy community solar, low-income-focused clean energy technologies, distributed energy storage solutions, and other novel combinations of technology, financing, and public and private resources.”
The bill’s authors say that “Climate change is real and California is already feeling the impacts. For over 30 years our elected officials have responded to this crisis with smart energy policies that have reduced our use of electricity and set examples for other states and countries to follow.”
They continue that, “California continues to lead the way with ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, achieve 100% zero carbon energy by 2045, and transition to a low carbon, climate resilient and equitable economy.”
The authors also suggest that, “To achieve these goals, a significant investment of public and private dollars will be needed. Currently, California has dozens of programs designed to support clean energy financing solutions across several agencies and offices, ranging from rebates for solar homes to tax credits for bus retrofits.”
Further, “While all these clean energy programs may be successful on their own, the sheer number of programs and the variety of managing entities makes coordination difficult. Furthermore, potential participants in these programs, especially in low income and disadvantaged communities where the private sector is not investing on its own, need a resource to pursue funding and financing options that fit their needs and leverage private capital,” the authors conclude.
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