After World War II, 85 million Americans bought more than $185 billion in bonds to fund important infrastructure. New US legislation seeks to leverage that same financial model to raise $50 billion for clean energy and energy-efficient technologies.
The “Clean Energy Victory Bonds Act of 2012” (aka HR 6275) sponsored by Representative Bob Filner (D-CA) and 10 co-sponsors lays the framework for bonds that would help extend critically important federal energy incentive programs by up to a decade, including the endangered wind production tax credit set to expire at the end of the year.
Investors could get in on the bonds by putting up as little as $25. The ultimate goal is to raise $50 billion that could inspire more than $150 billion in public and private finance for clean energy.
The bill’s sponsors believe the investments enabled by the bonds could create at least 1.7 million in competitive US green jobs, and help reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign sources of energy.
“The importance of a clean energy future for America cannot be overstated,” says Alisa Gravitz, president, Green America. “Just like Victory Bonds helped to ensure the nation’s victories in World War II, so, too, can Clean Energy Victory Bonds allow Americans to invest in a future that benefits our country economically, politically, and environmentally.”
The list of organizations supporting the bill includes Green America, 350.org, American Sustainable Business Council, Center for American Progress, ConservAmerica, Ceres, Calvert Investments, The Change, Clean Edge, Clean Yield, Cleantech Institute, Climate Bonds Initiative, Ethical Markets LLC, Franciscan Action Network, Green Choice Bank, Green for All, GreenandProfitable.com, Kansas Energy Information Network, Kenergy Solar, EcoOptions Ltd, Lazarus Financial Planning, Natural Investments, New Resource Bank, New Voice of Business, Pax World Funds, Rural Renewable Energy Alliance, and Self Help.
Aside from supporting the wind PTC, the bonds would be used to extend existing credits and incentives for solar energy, geothermal heat pumps, fuel cells, microturbines, combined heat and power systems, and advanced biofuels. They would also support the creation of vouchers to offset the purchase price for plug-in electric vehicles, grants for the installation of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and for certain energy efficiency and green building projects.
The idea of using bonds to support clean energy and energy efficiency, as well as other projects for mitigating climate change has been kicking around for several years. For example, the Climate Bonds Initiative has been creating a new class of bonds to support programs for a transition to a low-carbon economy. Unlike the Clean Energy Victory Bonds Act, which would let average Americans support clean energy, most of the Climate Bonds Initiative’s bond issues are aimed at institutional.
In May, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, raised $500 million in the first green bond issue in the US market. That money, though, will fund projects outside the US.
For the text of the Clean Energy Victory Bonds Act: