Saturday, August 29, 2015

Grants for Natural Gas Efficiency

Energy Commission: $500,000 to $2 million grants for industrial natural gas efficiency commercialization projects

The California Energy Commission has released a solicitation for proposals for industrial natural gas efficiency projects.  According to the solicitation,
"Funded technologies must be past the “proof-of-concept” stage and ready to be demonstrated in industrial settings under “real-world” operational conditions. Projects will accelerate commercialization of natural gas-related, energy efficient industrial, agriculture and water/wastewater processes."
$6.8 million is available for grant awards of between $500,000 and $2 million.  The deadline for submitting applications is October 29, 2015.

More information here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

California/Quebec Cap and Trade Auctions Becoming Routine

Cap and Trade auctions for greenhouse gas allowances have become quite routine.  The most recent joint auction, conducted by the California Air Resources Board and the Quebec Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and the Fight against Climate Change, was held on August 18.  The next one is scheduled for November 17.  (Information here)

At the August auction, over 73 million 2015 allowances were sold at a price of $12.52.  Qualified bidders were primarily affected utilities and energy companies, ranging from BP and Chevron to PG&E, SMUD and the Modesto Irrigation District.  Morgan Stanley Capital Group was the one financial company I recognized among the bidders.  It is not publicly known which bidders succeeded in receiving allowances or how many allowances they received.  (More detail, including list of qualified bidders here)

Auction proceeds are resulting in substantial resources for Quebec climate-friendly investments, as they are in California.

"The carbon market is the centerpiece of Québec’s strategy for fighting climate change," said Quebec Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and the Fight against Climate Change David Heurtel.  "In addition to ensuring GHG emission reductions, it is a green fiscal tool that bolsters the re-launching and sustainable development of our economy. By 2020, more than 3.3 billion dollars will have been invested to support Québec’s businesses, municipalities and private citizens in their transition to a low-carbon world."

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

State Loan Support Programs Benefit Green Businesses

I've met a lot of green business owners and entrepreneurs.  A consistent challenge is finding affordable financing.  There are state and federal programs that can help lenders feel more comfortable lending to green businesses, but beyond the SBA, these programs sometimes feel like the best-kept secrets of government business assistance.

I plan to cover some of these programs in this post and future posts.

The programs I mention today have just gotten an infusion of  $57 million from the federal government to support state small business loan programs.  The funds are the final tranche of a total of $168 million given to California as part of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010.

So far, the State has deployed $106.6 of the $168 million to support small business owners, who reported the program helped them create or retain 47,678 jobs through 2014. The remaining federal funds will be disbursed until exhausted, expected sometime in 2017.

The California funds are being deployed through the Small Business Loan Guarantee Program (SBLGP) and the California Capital Access Program (CalCAP) for loan loss reserve support and a Collateral Support Program.  The Loan Guarantee Program is administered by the IBank, and the other programs are administered by the California Pollution Control Financing Authority. (Disclosure:  I used to run CPCFA)

All three programs can benefit almost any small business, but the Collateral Support Program provides enhanced support for green manufacturing and green businesses.

IBank’s SBLGP helps lenders provide loans to small businesses that may have difficulty accessing capital. IBank partners with Financial Development Corporations to guarantee loans up to 80 percent to encourage lenders to provide funds to small businesses.  Businesses with fewer than 500 employees can receive a loan backed by a guarantee for up to 80% of loan value with a maximum guarantee amount of $2.5 million, maximum loan amount of $20 million and maximum guarantee term of 7 years.

The CalCAP loan loss reserve program helps participating lenders build a pooled loss reserve for enrolled loans.  Businesses with fewer than 500 employees can use the enrolled loans for a broad range of business purposes, including working capital.  The maximum covered amount is $2.5 million on loans up to $5 million.  This program has attracted a lot of micro-loans.  About 80% of the enrolled loans are under $40,000 and some lenders are providing loans as low as $500.

The Collateral Support Program may be a very attractive option for green businesses.  The program as already benefitted an anaerobic digestion facility and other green businesses.  For green businesses, participating lenders can receive a cash deposit of up to $2.5 million to serve a collateral for covered loans of $50,000 to $20 million.  The collateral amount can be up to 40% of loan value with an extra 10% in economically distressed areas.  Eligible business have 750 or fewer employees.  Loans can be used for working capital or as "bridge loans" before other loans become available.  Non-green businesses have lower lending amounts and some different terms.  Details are available in the Collateral Support Program Summary.

These programs are generally intended to assist businesses that lenders feel are decent credit risks buy that might fall on the edge or just outside of the normal lending criteria for that lender.  Green businesses, especially those without a long track record, often fall in this category.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Mapping California Climate Investments

California is the leading sub-national government in the world in climate solution investments.

Using Cap and Trade revenues and other resources, California climate spending includes research and development, financial incentives and direct deployment of renewable energy, advanced transportation, efficiency, emission reductions, and land use and building practices.

Two websites have emerged in recent weeks to track California climate investments.

California Climate Investment Map

The state of California has put together a robust new website (link here) that brings together information on a dozen different climate and energy programs into a single searchable application, allowing users to view the locations of individual projects and providing a summary of climate and energy investments for each of the state’s 120 legislative districts. Currently, the site is tracking nearly $6 billion in climate-related investments, including programs in agriculture, energy, transportation, natural resources, sustainable communities and waste reduction. The site will continue to add data on additional programs.

Source:  California Climate Investments Map

The Climate Investment Map illustrates the growing investments from these programs at the local and regional level. Initially, the site is prioritizing for inclusion climate and energy programs with the largest budgets and readily accessible data. Among the programs included are the following:

  • California Solar Initiative – Overseen by the California Public Utilities Commission, the initiative provides incentives for solar systems installations to customers of the state’s investor-owned utilities.
  • The California Clean Energy Jobs Act (Proposition 39) – Administered by the California Energy Commission, Prop 39 provides funding to local schools to improve energy efficiency and create clean-energy jobs.
  • Clean Vehicle Rebate Project – Administered by the Air Resources Board, the program is designed to promote the purchase of zero-emission vehicles.

“This data will help local and state leaders as well as all Californians see where the state’s climate investments are located,” said California Energy Commission Chair Robert B. Weisenmiller. “The data will help us evaluate the effectiveness of our efforts as these investments are critical to meet California's greenhouse gas reduction targets.”

The website will be continually updated with new programs, with a particular focus on those recently funded with proceeds from California’s cap-and-trade program. The site will also incorporate other ways of viewing the data geographically – including by city and county, by census tracts and other boundaries. 

Climate Benefits for California

Transform is aggregating data from various state agencies into an interactive map (link here) showing climate related investments in sustainable communities, energy, transportation, resources and waste.

Source:  Climate Benefits for California
The data is searchable by program, geography, year and can be restricted to projects benefitting disadvantaged communities.

According to Ryan Wiggins of Transform, "One of our primary goals in creating is to give people an easy way to understand the positive impact of climate investments in their legislative districts, county, region, and the state as a whole." 

Like the California state map, the Climate Benefits map and related tools will be regularly updated.

(for more on California climate change issues, see my Climate Dispatch blog at )