Virginia is one step closer to getting its 1st ‘green bank’

Fairfax County, Virginia, wants to become carbon neutral by 2050, so it is looking into establishing a green bank, which uses public dollars to spur private investment in clean energy projects.

Last year, the Board of Supervisors designated $300,000 for a Green Bank feasibility study. The findings were presented last week to the board’s Environmental Committee.

If established, the county would become the first locality in the commonwealth to have a green bank.

According to the presentation, county staff recommend an initial public investment of $3 million to $15 million into the bank, which could help bring in $650 million of investment into the county over the first five years.

Staff said the green bank would “serve as a one-stop shop for clean energy programs in the community.”

Examples of what the Fairfax County green bank could do include offering cash incentives to low- and moderate-income households and small commercial businesses to install rooftop solar systems. Another example is provide funding for small businesses to convert private vehicle fleets to electric alternatives.

Fairfax Now reported that some members of the Environmental Committee were concerned that the green bank would push away private investment that would have happened without the county’s financial assistance.

Staff will draft an ordinance to establish the green bank over the summer. It will be presented to the Environmental Committee in October.

A public hearing will be held early next year.

Neighboring Montgomery County was one of the first localities in the nation to establish a green bank.

Shayna Estulin

Shayna Estulin is an anchor/reporter for WTOP. She started her career in New York City as a local TV reporter and has since covered foreign affairs and national politics as a Washington correspondent. She also anchored a nightly news show for an international network.

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