Connecticut Is Changing the State of Clean Energy Innovation - An Op-Ed by Stuart DeCew

Hartford CT

There are stories told and retold that define the U.S. spirit of ingenuity and innovation. In particular, there’s a well-known garage in Palo Alto called “the birthplace of Silicon Valley.” In a cramped shed in 1938, William Hewlett and David Packard started an electronics company backed by just $538 in cash. Later, multi-billion-dollar Hewlett-Packard became the largest personal computer manufacturer in the world. It’s widely considered the pioneering startup of Silicon Valley.

Their story captures the public’s imagination by demonstrating how the most transformative innovations can spring from the most unlikely places. At the Yale Center for Business and the Environment, we constantly scan the horizon for transformative solutions in clean energy markets and finance. And as far and as wide as we look, we are drawn back to study the remarkable work across our home state of Connecticut.

In a story just now being written, there’s a nondescript office building in Rocky Hill, Conn. that many years from now may be viewed as “the birthplace of state green banking.” On July 1, 2011, the Connecticut General Assembly established the nation’s first green bank to achieve clean, affordable and reliable sources of energy while creating jobs and supporting local economies. Since its founding, the Connecticut has attracted over $1 billion in capital, created thousands of jobs, and established new markets and business models.

In recognition of this achievement, on July 12, 2017, the Connecticut received the prestigious Innovations in American Government Award, the "Nobel of policy," for its role in “sparking the green bank movement." Yet this award tells just a part of the story.

Just as Hewlett-Packard pioneered and established the startup culture and approach that defines Silicon Valley, there are early signals that the Connecticut River Valley is becoming the hub for a new culture and approach. Connecticut may well pioneer how individual states expand and accelerate the growth of clean energy.

To better understand this story, Yale University developed a dynamic case study on the Connecticut Green Bank, which we are making available to the public free of charge.


Our partners also developed this video which shows the growth of solar power in Connecticut. It is based on our Solar Energy Evolution and Diffusion Study (SEEDS) research. It looks best when viewed with Chrome.

In researching the material, we took stock of all the new business models, groundbreaking research, thought leadership, and new markets that we have reported on before. To give all of our readers a view of what we found, our team carefully crafted a special issue of our newsletter to illuminate the thriving state of clean energy innovation and experimentation in Connecticut.

Note: Bryan Garcia, president and CEO of the Connecticut Green Bank, is in a leadership role on the advisory board of Clean Energy Finance Forum.

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