(Reuters) - New York Governor Andrew Cuomo took a first step toward launching a $1 billion "Green Bank," asking state utility regulators to release the first $165.6 million to the bank to attract private lenders for clean energy projects, his office said on Tuesday.
The initial amount of money would come from unallocated funds from surcharges in utility bills that the state already collects for energy-efficiency programs.
"We will leverage public dollars to attract private sector investment into building a new, clean energy economy that will help make our state greener and create jobs," Cuomo said in a statement.
Cuomo petitioned the state's Public Service Commission on Monday to release the funding, which would serve as seed money for the Green Bank.
In 2011, the neighboring state of Connecticut established what it said was the first Green Bank in the United States.
In New York, the Green Bank would be a division of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. Another petition for funds is likely on the way, Cuomo's office added. Both this and subsequent petitions include public comment periods.
Over 20 years, the Green Bank could increase by nearly ten times the amount of private capital available to expand clean energy markets, Cuomo's office said.
Britain's Green Investment Bank, one of the world's few banks focused solely on lending to clean energy projects, said in May that it had allocated 635 million pounds ($999 million) in funding over its first five months of operation.
(Reporting by Hilary Russ; Editing by Tiziana Barghini and Kenneth Barry)