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WCX finalizes infrastructure project certification standards

On January 2nd, the West Coast Infrastructure Exchange released the final version of “Infrastructure Project Certification –Principles and Framework” which was developed by the WCX Standards Committee.  The effort to develop these standards was initiated in 2013 based on feedback from the market that the lack of standards and consistency was a problem that was inhibiting the growth of the US market for “investable infrastructure.”

The Standards Committee had previously issued a draft version for comment in September 2013 and comments were received from a diverse array of over 20 different parties representing infrastructure fund managers, pension funds, labor unions, NGOs, attorneys, advisors and other stakeholders. The comments received helped refine the final document which is available here.

The principles and project standards are the first-ever attempt by multiple US states to jointly define the types of public infrastructure projects that would be most suitable for engaging private capital and to lay out a framework for how best to structure such investments to maximize public benefits while addressing the needs of investors.  Based on experience in other jurisdictions with extensive experience with private investment in public infrastructure, the standards highlight the importance of such factors as transparency, high quality analysis, political support, competitive bidding, community labor standards, appropriate risk allocation, and efficient processes.

The next step will be to screen proposed projects in the WCX region against these standards and to certify those that meet them, in order to raise their profile and help investors identify well-conceived projects.  WCX will begin accepting project proposal in January 2014 from public sector sponsors in the three west coast states.  For more information, contact Chris Taylor, WCX Executive Director at chris.taylor@westcoastx.org

WCX announces formation of new Advisory Council of National Experts 

The WCX has formed a new Advisory Council to provide guidance and market feedback regarding strategy and priorities for the organization. The Advisory Council members bring deep expertise and experience in private investment in public infrastructure and will offer valuable insights regarding successful strategies for expanding the flow of private capital into public infrastructure. 

Advisory Council members represent a diverse set of perspectives including pension funds, public sector officials managing public-private investment in states outside the WCX footprint, infrastructure fund managers, labor unions, advisors and attorneys, NGOs, and think tanks.

These experts will convene several times a year to advise the WCX on how to best fulfill its mission and to provide a direct link to key participants the infrastructure investment market.  It is envisioned that committees or taskforces comprised of a subset of Advisory Council members may be created to address specific topics of importance to the WCX as the need arises.

The WCX welcomes the assistance of this eminent group of advisors and appreciates their willingness to help the WCX meet its goals.  The full list of Advisory Council members is below along with their organizational affiliations. 

Barend, Samara AECOM Capital
Bietler, Stephen Chicago Infrastructure Trust
Bonner, Dale Plenary Group
Chambers, Judy Pension Consulting Alliance (PCA)
Garbutt, Andrew KPMG - Infrastructure Advisory
Garvey, Jane Meridiam
Hickox, Winston California Strategies
Kinn, Tony VA Office of Transportation / Public Private Partnerships
Lubber, Mindy CERES
Luchetti, Peter Table Rock Capital; CA Infrastructure Bank
Monroe, Mike Building and Construction Trades Dept
Parkinson, John Alliance to Improve American Infrastructure
Pedrotty, Dan American Federation of Teachers/AFL-CIO
Petersen, Eric Hawkins Delafield and Wood
Puentes, Robert Brookings Institution
Ryan, Paul JP Morgan Global Real Assets
Stricker, Geoffrey Edgemoor Development/Clark Construction
Tobin, Margaret New York Works Taskforce
Weir, Laurie CalPERS
Yarema, Geoffrey Nossaman LLP
York, Kendra Indiana Finance Authority
Young, Marguerite Service Employees International Union
 

West Coast governors commit to sponsor pilot projects with WCX

On October 28th, 2013, the Governors of California, Oregon and Washington and the Premier of British Columbia announced the West Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy in San Francisco, CA.

As part of the Action Plan commitments, the leaders agreed to sponsor pilot projects with local governments, state agencies and the West Coast Infrastructure Exchange (WCX.) WCX is now working with administration officials in each state to identify and screen potential pilot projects that demonstrate effective engagement of private capital to improve our infrastructure while increasing climate resilience and delivering greater value for taxpayers.

Staff from Partnerships BC will be assisting with the project screenings and providing advice based on their experience working on over 40 projects in British Columbia. Potential project types include water supply and treatment, energy efficiency and transportation, among others. 

Specifically, the Action Plan states:  “The West Coast Infrastructure Exchange is demonstrating how to attract private capital for infrastructure projects while increasing climate resilience through best practices and certification standards.  To scale up these efforts, the governments of California, Oregon and Washington will sponsor pilot projects with local governments and state agencies and the WCX.  WCX also works closely with Partnerships BC, a center of infrastructure financing expertise established by the government of British Columbia that has helped secure financing for over 40 projects worth more than C$17 billion.”

To read a copy of the full Action Plan see: 

http://www.pacificcoastcollaborative.org/Documents/Pacific%20Coast%20Climate%20Action%20Plan.pdf

For a blog post from the Natural Resources Defense Council highlighting the WCX component of the Action Plan see:

http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/spoticha/facing_scary_facts_how_will_we_pay_for_climate_preparedness.html

If you have a potential pilot project in the WCX footprint (CA, OR or WA) that you would like to propose for screening, please contact Chris Taylor.

WCX participates in Oregon Infrastructure Innovation Task Force

Oregon’s legislative assembly acknowledged the critical importance of public infrastructure and the need to innovate to move projects from planning stages to construction.

In the 2013 session, lawmakers chartered a task force (Oregon Innovation in Infrastructure) to recommend creation of a state-level center of expertise in innovative infrastructure finance and delivery as well as potential changes in public contracting laws. The legislation was House Bill 2345. 

WCX Executive Director Chris Taylor and Board Member Tom Rinehart (Chief of Staff to Oregon Treasurer Ted Wheeler) were both appointed as members and helped spearhead the adoption of a wide ranging set of recommendations to position Oregon as a national leader in innovative infrastructure.

The task force heard presentations from a variety of parties with experience in private investment in public infrastructure including Partnerships BC, Plenary Group, Edgemoor Development/Clark Construction and others.  After several months of deliberations, the Taskforce issued a final report in December 2013. 

The final report will be published in late January and a link will be posted on the WCX website.  Legislation will be introduced in the 2014 Oregon Legislative Assembly to adopt and implement the recommendations of the task force. 

For more information, contact HB 2345 Taskforce Staff Director Karen Williams at: KWilliams@carrollinvestments.com.