KY Green Bank funds could come to NKY cities

Northern Kentucky cities this year could get greener if Congress passes an energy bill that would expand an existing Kentucky program that offers loans for public building energy efficiency upgrades.

Kentucky is the first state in the nation to create a Green Bank, a revolving loan fund offering low-interest loans for energy efficiency projects at state buildings. The $14.4 million fund uses federal stimulus money and is currently limited to publically owned state buildings.

The Green Bank of Kentucky was launched last fall by Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear; dollars are awarded through a competitive application process. Loans can be used for energy efficiency upgrades like LEED certified construction projects, energy efficiency upgrades or retrofits that result in reduced energy usage.

"When the governor first came into office, one of his early goals was to create a comprehensive energy proposal. Energy efficiency was going to play a major role in that. We thought before we started asking homeowners and businesses to be more efficient, we should start first," explained Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet Secretary Jonathan Miller. The cabinet administers the program.

So far the Green Bank has announced one loan, $1.3 million to the Kentucky Department of Education which will use the funds for projects at the Kentucky School for the Blind in Louisville and other department buildings. Several other applications are under review, but none in Northern Kentucky so far.

Though the current Green Bank program is limited to state buildings, local cities and counties could be included if a provision to create a national Green Bank in the current federal Clean Energy Bill passes this year, Miller said.

Though some parts of the bill are very controversial including the so-called cap-and trade proposal, the idea of a national Green Bank fund has much wider support, Miller added.

"A national Green Bank has national support, and if it does pass we feel pretty confident (we could use federal funds) for the state Green Bank. We could loan that to city and county facilities so that folks on the local level can become more energy efficient," he said.

Several other states already are looking to model Kentucky's innovative program, including Delaware and South Carolina. Officials there have been talking to Kentucky officials in an effort to launch their own Green Banks, Miller said.

Writer: Feoshia Henderson
Source: Jonathan Miller, Secretary of the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet

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