Justin Gerdes. Monday 26 August 2013 14.10 EDT
In the depths of the Great Recession three years ago, California’s chief fiscal officer John Chiang gathered his deputies and posed a question: “Is there any way we can put capital on the ground in California to put people back to work in ways that would make sense for the long term?”
After some debate, they settled on what they called “the holy grail” –energy efficiency. Retrofit projects would employ many of the 100,000 construction workers looking for work and put money into the pockets of the state’s cash-strapped residents. But the policymakers soon hit a snag: they realized that to scale up a statewide program, they would need money – lots of it.
“As soon as we started working on this, international investors – Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Barclays, folks at that level – came in and said: ‘We have, sitting on the sidelines right now, approximately $3tn in assets that we don’t have anywhere to invest.’ We would love to put some of that on the ground in California,'” said Alan Gordon, California’s deputy controller for environmental policy, recounting the story at Greentech Media’s Avant EE conference in San Francisco. Read more.