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A coalition of energy companies hopes to reinvigorate the market for funding renewable energy projects by creating a government-backed “green bank” to serve as a conduit for billions of dollars in federal loans. Under the plan, outlined in federal legislation sponsored by Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., the bank would be an independent, wholly owned corporation of the federal government focused solely on loaning money to a range of projects deemed to promote clean energy. These could include power lines to connect remote wind turbines with areas of high demand, landfill methane capture projects and refineries that turn organic material into fuels. The bill also includes funds for new nuclear power plants but only if other funding programs that might be open to those projects are exhausted. With an initial $10 billion in capital raised through the sale of U.S. Treasury bonds, the bank could support loans many times that amount, said Todd Filsinger, co-chair of the Coalition for Green Bank and head of PA Consulting Group’s Energy Capital Markets business. “The bank is not meant to compete with private lenders but is meant to be complementary,” Filsinger said. “It could provide the kind of assistance needed to get renewable infrastructure projects built on a constant basis for a number of years.” Other backers include Houston-based power line developer Cavallo Energy, General Electric, Florida Power & Light and the American Wind Energy Association. Funding for renewable energy projects was strong in 2007, particularly for wind power projects, Filsinger said. Texas was a major recipient of such funding as it became the largest producer of wind power in the U.S. and is on pace to top many countries. The sector was able to resist the early stages of the credit crunch last year, but the global economic downturn finally caught up. Worldwide investment in clean energy projects was about $13.3 billion in the first quarter, a 53 percent drop from the same quarter last year, according to research firm New Energy Finance. This was due largely to a drop off in bank financing. But government funding for such work is expected to surge, both in the U.S. and abroad, thanks to efforts to stimulate the world economy. Of $2.6 trillion in economic stimulus spending the largest nations have committed, nearly....
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