Since taking office as State Treasurer, I have promoted "green investing" – investing that can both create jobs and preserve a natural world of promise for our children and beyond.
Fortunately, taking the environment into account is also good business! Despite the economic slowdown, a record $125 billion was invested in global clean technology in 2009, and that number likely will climb even higher this year.
There is a need for speed here – we need better government policies and more investment activity. In particular, our heavy reliance on oil grows increasingly dangerous. As I write this, we face the huge costs of the greatest environmental disaster of our time in the Gulf of Mexico, highlighting the practical difficulties and ecological risks of our domestic oil production. And few who follow international affairs are pleased by the U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
I believe private investment should be spurred by thoughtful and balanced public policy. That is why I am proud to report the McCord Treasury Department has formally incorporated environmental considerations into our Investment Policy.
These guidelines encourage all internal and external Treasury fund managers to consider environmental factors when evaluating investments, ask our managers about it during their regular evaluations, and seek out investments that offer strong risk-adjusted returns considering climate change.
I believe climate change will create significant risks for businesses – through its direct impact, regulatory changes, and shifting consumer preferences and market volatility. Conversely, significant opportunities will present themselves to innovative businesses that are able to think ahead and offer energy efficiency and alternative energy solutions.
Among other investments, we have made a commitment to Blue Hill Investment Partners, a venture capital firm, to invest in Pennsylvania-based firms that are poised to exploit the future lower-carbon economy.
On another front, last spring, I joined two of my fellow public institutional investors (from New York and California) to call for increased transparency and improved disclosure of the material risks associated with climate change faced by publicly-traded companies.
The impact of climate change on businesses is something the Pennsylvania taxpayers and I, as the custodian of the investments of the Commonwealth, have the right to know about fully. Read more...
My staff and I have also been busy pursuing attractive investments in energy-efficiency industries. I want to do my part to position Pennsylvania as a winner in the race to lead clean-energy industries. Our innovative and unique Keystone HELP loans provide low-interest loans to homeowners to carry out energy conservation improvements while allowing Treasury to realize an attractive return on the investment in these loans.
The Keystone HELP program is a national model for sustainable lending to retrofit existing homes and buildings with efficient equipment that ultimately saves families money, reduces carbon emissions and lessens our nation’s dependence on foreign oil – in addition to creating good-paying, in-demand jobs for installers and manufacturers.
Treasury’s Keystone HELP program is a triple winner – the state earns a secure return, Pennsylvanians are given the chance to rein in their energy expenses, and we contribute to an overall reduction in energy consumption!
I am proud to share the news that the McCord Treasury was recently awarded a $441,000 grant from The Rockefeller Foundation to further its work creating responsible investments that reduce energy costs, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and create jobs in Pennsylvania.
(The Rockefeller Foundation fosters innovative solutions to many of the world's most pressing challenges, affirming its mission, since 1913, to “promote the well-being” of humanity. Today, the Foundation works to ensure that more people can tap into the benefits of globalization while strengthening resilience to its risks.)
Treasury’s Keystone HELP program has received other national recognition. It was the focus of discussion at a recent meeting of the National Governors Association, a Renewable Energy and International Law project event at Yale University, and other investment and energy conferences.
Also, earlier this year, I joined with investors from across the globe to call for the U.S. and other governments to take rapid action on national climate change policies that will encourage clean energy investment and economic growth opportunities.
As your State Treasurer, I am committed to earning strong returns on Commonwealth investments. I am also committed to green investing as a responsible component of Treasury’s investment strategy and philosophy.
Please visit patreasury.gov to learn about the many ways the McCord Treasury works to strengthen our state’s economy and enhance the financial security of our residents.
Yours in service,
Keystone Home Energy Loan Program
Information on the Keystone HELP program, applications and full program guidelines are available at www.keystonehelp.com.
Federal Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency
Information from ENERGY STAR on federal tax credits for home improvements, efficient vehicles, solar energy systems, and fuel cells. Learn more...
DOE Fact Sheet: Financing an Energy-Efficient Home
This fact sheet from the Department of Energy features an overview of energy-efficient financing programs from mortgages to home improvement loans. Learn more...
Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET)
RESNET is a national network of mortgage companies, real estate brokerages, builders, appraisers, utilities, and other housing and energy professionals. This Web site offers state contact information for certified energy raters and lenders who know how to process energy efficiency mortgages, a home energy rating systems primer, and an overview of energy efficient mortgages. Learn more...
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: Energy-Efficient Mortgage Program
The Energy-Efficient Mortgage Program is one of many Federal Housing Authority (FHA) programs that insure mortgage loans to encourage lenders to make mortgage credit available to borrowers, such as first-time homebuyers, who would not otherwise qualify for conventional loans on affordable terms. Learn more...