MNCIFA is a state fund that will help communities, families, and businesses throughout Minnesota access money for renewable energy projects.
Established by the 2023 MN Legislature and modeled in part after successful "green banks" in 17 states and the District of Colombia, MNCIFA is a critical tool to help MN transition to clean energy equitably, and at the scale and pace we need.
"MNCIFA has been described as a gold standard, nationally, for financing the renewable energy transition. It can help Minnesotans in all corners of the state, particularly historically underserved communities, get to a green energy future."
--former MN Senator Patricia Torres Ray
- MNCIFA is a fund for all Minnesotans
- The 2023 legislature allocated $45 million of one-time state dollars, which will make Minnesota competitive for significant federal funds from the federal Greenhouse Gas Reduction fund (GGRF).
- MNCIFA will use public dollars to leverage private investment by reducing the perceived risk, pooling projects to create investable opportunities, and demonstrating the performance of clean energy projects in our market. Green bank models in other states indicate that MNCIFA will leverage between $3-10 of private investment for every dollar of public funds invested.
- MNCIFA will be managed by an 11-member governing board comprising individuals who represent all of Minnesota; the board will be required to provide the legislature with detailed annual updates on progress, communities served, and the level of private investment leveraged.
- MNCIFA will develop a strategic plan and investment strategy based on an analysis of the gaps in the market and input from community and stakeholders.
- MNCIFA will serve those whom existing banks and lending institutions have not yet helped. It ensures that all Minnesotans, no matter their income, race, or zip code, will have the opportunity to access clean, locally produced energy from the wind and the sun.
- It will also give communities access to technical assistance, to help them address pressing community needs with solutions that also lower their energy burden.
- MNCIFA will make Minnesota a national leader in equitably funding the renewable energy transition. And it will position Minnesota to receive substantial federal climate funds at this key moment.
Clean energy investments possible with MNCIFA:
- Community-wide projects like geothermal or district heating and cooling, community solar, or microgrids that require significant coordination and pre-design.
- Lower- to moderate-income households and businesses that may be perceived as riskier borrowers or otherwise don’t currently meet the requirements of private lenders. Without upfront capital to take advantage of tax rebates, many people will be left out of opportunities to choose renewables and save money.
- Agricultural Sector: Farms, strapped for time and people power, may find it difficult to navigate funding and find technical assistance. New crops need funding to get through the “Commercialization Valley of Death.”
- Smaller KW projects: Because of increased costs per transaction, banks often prefer to lend to larger projects, often leaving smaller projects unfunded.
- Influencing Building Standards: Public investment of sufficient scale and capacity, when tied to zero-emission building standards, can help drive markets towards better outcomes (for example, affordable housing with extremely low energy bills).
TO LEARN MORE:
- MNCIFA fact sheet - MN Interfaith Power and Light
- “How MNCIFA can help residential projects” - MN Interfaith Power and Light
- “How a MN green bank can help improve rural childcare access” - CURE
- Boulder County State and local government and the formation of green banks
- "Like a good hotdish, MN Energy Innovation Needs Layers," Environmental Policy Brief by Dr. Gabe Chan and Dr. Matthew Grimley, University of MN
- "2022 projects by finance authorities similar to MNCIFA" - MN Interfaith Power and Light
- "Here's how we can equitably fund Minnesota's transition to a carbon-free system," by Julia Nerbonne, Minnesota Reformer 3/23/23
- "Minnesota 'green bank' proposal aims to speed climate friendly projects in underserved communities" by Andrew Hazzard, Sahan Journal 4/10/23
- "What is a green bank?" - Coalition for Green Capital
"MNCIFA is expected to be one of the most powerful green banks in the country. For example, Connecticut’s green bank, which largely inspired MNCIFA through its quasi-public structure and broad range of functions, was created in 2011. Today, it has nearly $300 million in assets, and has reportedly mobilized $284 million in public funds over the course of a decade to support over $2.2 billion in investments. Some of the functions and purposes that Connecticut only recently equipped its green bank with will be available to the MNCIFA on day one. Moreover, the unprecedented federal support available through the GGRF could mean that the MNCIFA reaches the scale of Connecticut’s green bank far sooner."
--Jordan Haedtler, Climate Financial Policy Consultant
Watch this page for more information to come about how to access MNCIFA funds
MNIPL convened faith and indigenous groups, labor organizations, environmental justice communities, and energy policy advocates to fight together for MNCIFA. Learn more about our Rise and Repair Coalition agenda for indigenous rights and climate justice here.
Rise and Repair Coalition partners: Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light, Honor the Earth, CURE, Jewish Community Action, Minnesota Council of Churches, Minnesota Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Alliance (MUUSJA), EcoFaith Network of the Minneapolis Area Synod of the ELCA, Episcopal Church in Minnesota, Native Sun Community Power Development, Minnesota Environmental Justice Table, Climate Generation, Unidos MN, Women's Environmental Institute, Clean Water Action, Migizi, East Phillips Neighborhood Institute, Sunrise Twin Cities, Resilient Cities and Communities, Mi C.A.S.A., Sierra Club North Star Chapter, We Are Still Here Minnesota, MN350, Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate, R.I.S.E. Coalition, and VOTE Solar.
Thank you to Representative Emma Greenman, Senator Tou Xiong, Representative Patty Acomb, and Senator Nick Frentz
for their leadership in getting MNCIFA passed in the 2023 legislature.