White House Urges Continued Private Investor Partnership in Clean Energy

By Rebecca Kern

June 16 — The White House announced more than $4 billion in private-sector foundation investments to fund innovative technologies to reduce carbon pollution, during an event at which it released a series of executive actions to help clear the path for such long-term funding.

These actions include trimming transactions costs, improving financing options, clarifying relevant investment rules and giving more transparency on federal funding for clean energy research.

“You've got a partner in us. If we can do more to make it better for you all, to make it more attractive to invest and be engaged, let us know,” Vice President Joe Biden said to a room full of investors and startup companies at the White House Clean Energy Investment Summit.

The actions also include the establishment of a Clean Energy Impact Investment Center at the Energy Department. The center will provide information about energy and climate programs at the department to investors and the public.

The announced investments doubled the initial target the Obama administration had set in February when it set a goal of having philanthropies and other investors pledge $2 billion worth of investment in clean energy, Biden said at the Washington event.

Investing in clean energy is “not only the morally right thing to do, it's not only in the interest of our national security, it's a smart economic play,” he said.

Biden referred to two Treasury Department actions aimed to make it easier for charitable foundations to invest in clean energy technologies.

First, the Treasury will issue guidance clarifying that foundations are allowed to make certain “mission-related” investments (MRIs) in companies that further the foundation's charitable purpose, according to a White House fact sheet.

Treasury will also release final rules establishing new examples of allowable program-related investments (PRIs) by foundations, including investments in for-profit companies to fight environmental deterioration.

Investments for ‘Moral Integrity.'

“One of the reasons Treasury is clarifying the rules on what you can invest in is because for many of you, the investment is for moral integrity, that's why your organization exists,” he said.

Biden said the federal government's role will range from investing in basic research to expanding and making permanent the tax credits that have led to greater clean energy development.

However, Biden said, “Only in the private sector can we mostly realize the opportunities of this energy transformation. The government can’t do this alone.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Rebecca Kern in Washington at rkern@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com

Text of the White House fact sheet is at https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/06/16/fact-sheet-obama-administration-announces-more-4-billion-private-sector.