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How Public Banks Can Fund Renewable Energy

Above Photo: Wolfram Morales (left) of Sparkasse public banks in Germany, speaks with Al Weinrub (right), coordinator of the Local Clean Energy Alliance based in Oakland (Courtesy Oakland North)

September 25, Friends of Public Bank of Oakland organized a public forum to hear Wolfram Morales of the German Sparkasse (East German Savings Bank Association) explain how Public Banking works in his country to fund renewable energy development. The East Bay Times as well as Oakland North covered the event and connected it to how Public Banks here could do the same thing in the US that Sparkasse do in Germany: offer low-interest rates to companies providing solar and wind resources, driving development.

The East Bay Times:

“Though public banks are a fixture in Europe, the only one that exists in the United States is the Bank of North Dakota, Morales said. There are more than 600 in Germany, most of which are county-level, putting billions into renewable energy development. Those banks are able to offer interest rates as low as 1 percent on loans, which is much lower than what commercial banks offer.

“Speakers at the forum talked about how a public bank can help give the community more control over its energy sources.”

Oakland North:

“Public banks are mission-driven alternatives to Wall Street banks. They are controlled at the local level, and designed to respond to community needs. They offer more affordable financing to community-driven development, such as solar and wind infrastructure, small businesses and affordable housing. …

“Germany currently has 400 municipally-owned public banks, known as Sparkassen, which first formed 200 years ago, said Morales.  He gave a detailed PowerPoint presentation to nearly 200 people who filled the seats of the council chamber floor, as he described how this network of local banks have been essential to Germany’s ‘energy transition.'”

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