“Clean Energy Victory Bonds Act of 2014” In 2014, Representatives Zoe Lofgren and Doris Matsui introduced the Clean Energy Victory Bonds Act, in the House of Representatives. The bill will allow all Americans to invest in Treasury Bonds for as little as $25 each that will fund a clean energy future. The $50 billion raised from the bonds will fund clean energy programs that support wind, solar, energy efficiency, and electric vehicles in the United States.
Clean Energy Victory Bonds would extend proven government programs that create clean energy and jobs, including the Investment Tax Credit and Production Tax Credit, for a decade. The funds raised from the bonds would also help homeowners make energy efficiency upgrades to their homes and purchase plug-in and electric cars. The bonds will help ensure American competitiveness in the growing clean energy and transportation industries and will help create over 1 million jobs throughout the United States.
Why Victory Bonds?
During the First and Second World Wars, the US government sold bonds in order to finance the costs of war. These war bonds were dubbed “Victory Bonds” because of the crucial role they played in the war effort. In the spirit of patriotism and national sacrifice, Victory Bonds generated $185 billion during World War II (over $2 trillion in today’s dollars). They gave ordinary Americans ownership in the efforts of their military overseas and afforded individual and institutional investors access to a risk-free asset. We can learn from that experience.
From coal to nuclear to oil, no new energy source was ever developed without significant government funding. As the fossil-fuel driven economy falters, the need for an alternative path forward becomes ever more urgent.
Around the world countries are competing to develop and deploy the next generation of clean energy technologies at an astounding pace. China alone is investing up to $12 billion per month in its clean energy sector. Meanwhile American clean energy capacity languishes for lack of financing and companies are unable to develop cutting edge technologies or create employment for American citizens. Clean Energy Victory Bonds are designed to play a role akin to the Victory Bonds of wartime – to mobilize Americans towards the common goal of a globally competitive U.S. clean technology industry and, ultimately, a greener economy.
Wartime Victory Bonds often yielded interest rates lower than the going market rate, but Americans found them hugely popular as a way of investing in their collective future. Clean Energy Victory Bonds, however, will pay interest equal to or greater than the market interest rate on regular government bonds. Clean Energy Victory Bonds will provide a competitive government-backed investment vehicle that Americans will be excited to purchase, and a chance to invest in our collective future.
What are Clean Energy Victory Bonds (CEVBs)?
Clean Energy Victory Bonds (CEVBs) are proposed U.S. Treasury bonds that will finance the production of innovative energy technologies in the US. At a time when we are facing record unemployment in the US and are falling behind other countries in the race to produce clean energy technologies, CEVBs will create 1 million jobs and position the US to be the leader in one of the fastest growing sectors in the world: clean energy. CEVBs will also create a secure energy future for all Americans, decreasing our reliance on foreign oil and utilizing energy sources that are free.
Backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, U.S. Treasury bonds are considered one of the safest investments around. Moreover, CEVBs will allow all Americans the opportunity to invest in the clean energy future without creating additional taxes on individuals or corporations. The bonds will pay as much, or more, in interest as other Treasury Bonds. CEVBs will be available for as little as $25.
What innovative energy technologies are supported?
Financing made possible by CEVBs would support both the research and manufacturing of:
Solar (panels and other technologies)
Geothermal (drilling water or steam wells to access earth’s heat),
Second generation biofuels (switch grass and agricultural waste), and
Electric vehicles (electric motors powered by rechargeable battery packs)
Energy Efficiency (reducing the energy used by homes, offices, etc.)
CEVBs will support companies that research and manufacture cutting-edge technologies, and will provide rebates to consumers who invest in energy efficiency and clean energy technologies for their homes, as well as instant rebates for the purchase of electric vehicles. Through the use of cleaner, energy efficient products, you can expect lower utility costs, and healthier and safer living conditions by reducing local air and water pollution. Furthermore, producing and securing our own energy supply will limit price increases and fluctuations, resulting in stable energy prices for homes and businesses.
What are the economic benefits?
A major economic advantage of CEVBs is job creation. The investments in clean energy supported by CEVBs can create at least 1 million competitively-paying jobs in the U.S. Another economic advantage will be the reduction of U.S. dependence on foreign sources of energy. Creating and sustaining our own energy supply will enhance national security and put the US in the lead amongst countries moving forward in clean energy innovations. Also, cleaner energy means reduced pollution, which costs the U.S. billions of dollars per year in health care costs.
Investing in the next Industrial Revolution
The vast majority of Americans would like our country to increase development of clean energy technologies. We all want to create more jobs in the US. Americans are also looking for safe investments. Clean Energy Victory Bonds will give all Americans the opportunity to invest in the technologies that will power our future – and they will continue our nation’s support for cutting edge technologies without the need for additional taxes on individuals or corporations.
Winning the Renewables Race
The race for a renewable energy economy is on. Over the past several years, there has been remarkable growth in investment in renewable energy in many developed and developing countries. A combination of national governments providing financial support, and the expansion of policies that promote renewables, produced a record $211 billion of investment in renewable energy worldwide in 2010.1 However, as worldwide investment increases, the U.S. is steadily falling behind China.
In 2013, China invested more than $61 billion in large-scale renewables, down 3.8% from $63.8 billion in 2012. By comparison, the U.S. invested around $48.4 billion in 2013, down 8.4% from $53 in 2012. China has implemented multiple national energy policies designed to foster progress in clean energy research and development that the U.S has yet to adopt, like renewable energy standards, feed-in tariffs, and green bonds. Through these programs, China increased its green jobs, lowered pollution and increased its energy independence.2
The picture for the U.S. is more worrisome, when you consider investment in clean energy in relation to overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Other countries have shown significant growth in their energy investments relative to their GDP.1 2 3 4 Looking at investment in renewables as a percentage of GDP for several of the largest economies, the US is ranked seventh, behind Germany, China, Italy, Canada, Spain, and Brazil. Germany is the world leader in investment in clean energy as a percentage of GDP, and a world leader in installed solar (despite its location and relative lack of sunshine). Germany installed a remarkable 7,400 megawatts of solar energy in 20104, and is on track to generate 35% of its energy from renewables by 2020.5 If the US hopes to remain competitive in clean energy technologies (a field we pioneered), we need to make significant investments. Clean Energy Victory Bonds can play an important role.