In Brief: Funding Source Emerging for Green Projects

California Gets Most of the EV VC

According to a new report by the public policy group Next 10, some $840 million in venture capital investments in electric vehicle technology were made in California. That’s 80 percent of the U.S. total. The report, Powering Innovation: California is Leading the Shift to Electric Vehicles from R&D to Early Adoption, also indicated that the EV industry had grown 142 percent since 1995, accounting for 1,790 jobs in 2010 – a number that is sure to grow with tens of thousands of EV’s coming off the assembly lines in the next 12 months.

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The Sunny State of Solar in California

California’s solar industry has doubled in size in the last five years according to a study by the Environment California Research & Policy Center, a non-profit advocacy group. The industry now has more than 3,500 solar companies employing more than 25,000 workers. Much of the growth, according to the Center, occurred because of California’s Million Solar Roofs initiative, a five-year old program that set a goal of installing 3,000 megawatts of solar power throughout the state by 2016.

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Money Flowing into School Construction and Renovation

School districts, county offices of education and charter schools have received almost $10 million in state funding for construction and modernization. The funding is part of the State Allocation Board’s (SAB) fast-track priority funding program. The 377 schools involved will be required to have projects under construction within 90 days instead of 18 months under normal funding cycles. State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson, an advocate of green schools and author of the Schools of the Future initiative, is encouraging schools participating in the program to modernize their facilities to include solar power and other renewable power sources.

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Trillionth Dollar Goes to Clean Energy

According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, in late November 2011, investments in clean energy has attracted its trillionth dollar since records were started in 2004.  Investments in clean energy has increased five-fold from $52 billion a year in 2004 to $243 billion in 2010. Bloomberg New Energy Finance expects figures for 2011 to set records again.  Pushed by lowering capital costs for solar, geothermal, marine, hydro and bioenergy and smart technologies spread across the world’s grid, clean energy is expected to maintain its rise into the foreseeable future.

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Possible Windfall for Schools, Public and Commercial Buildings 

A ballot initiative seeking to close a corporate tax loophole that would raise some $1.1 billion in five years from out-of-state companies for schools and green building projects has been filed by an environmental coalition led by a hedge-fund manager, Tom Steyer. Steyer heads up Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs, which is a network of environmental and technology groups. The proposal would require out-of-state business to recalculate their taxes. Steyer also contributed $5 million in 2010 to the effort that opposed Proposition 23, which sought to suspend California’s greenhouse gas emissions limit.

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A Powerful Tool for Clean Energy Development

When it comes to clean energy development, states might be able to take up some of the slack in reduced federal funding using a much overlooked tool.  According to a new paper released by the Brookings Institution as part of its Project on State and Metropolitan Innovation, as federal programs like the 2009 stimulus law expire, Clean Energy Funds (CEFs) at the state level are “one of the most important clean energy forces at work in the nation.” More than 20 states have a variety of public investment vehicles that invest in clean energy projects. These funds are often derived from public-benefit surcharges on electric utility bills. In the last ten years CEFs have invested over $2.7 billion to in renewable energy projects. According to Bloomberg, these funds have leveraged another $9.7 billion in federal and private sector investment, resulting in $12 billion used for over 72,000 projects in the US.  In California, state funding for public energy research through the PIER (The California Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research)program attracts and grows businesses and creates jobs by investing in innovative, energy-related research development and demonstration projects.

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Source: Green Technology