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California Sues Freddie & Fannie over PACE Energy Efficiency Financing

New financing methods for California homeowner remodeling for energy efficiency hits a snag ... but California fights back to support community action financing.

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California State Attorney General Jerry Brown has filed a lawsuit against controversial mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, for opting out of a program that encourages residential solar installations. The PACE initiative, short for Property Assessed Clean Energy, lets California local governments loan money to homeowners through property-tax assessments so that they can afford to install solar panels and energy-efficient heating systems. Local governments raise the money by selling municipal bonds, and are repaid by homeowners over the next 15 to 20 years.

Because property-tax assessments are required to be paid back before mortgage investors in the event of foreclosure, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and their peers are up in arms. Their regulator, the FHFA, says that PACE does not ensure that homeowners have enough money to repay all their debts, leaving them dangerously vulnerable.

As a result, both mortgage giants have said they will not accept loans aided by PACE, even though the program has already won broad federal support and generous stimulus funding.

Brown, the Democratic nominee for California governor, says he filed the lawsuit so that the mortgage companies don’t get away with killing a program that could improve the state’s environment, boost its renewable energy generation, and create thousands of new jobs. His supporters say they will push for federal legislation to ensure PACE’s future.

PACE Ourselves

Not only will a robust PACE program help homeowner make their homes more energy efficient and more comfortable, especially in high heat and high cold regions -- but it will reduce the load on utility scale energy generation infrastructure and reduce the loss of energy through long distance transmission ... you know, the energy you can practically hear escaping with a sizzling sound during high humidity days.

PACE will also create green jobs in energy efficiency, solar PV, solar thermal and high performance roofing, insulation and HVAC systems.

To have the financial institutions objecting to finding alternative financing isn't surprising, just frustrating and ... well, infuriating.

So, you might want to write your legislators at all levels and let them know that alternatives are needed ... and suggest that Freddie and Fannie hear from THEM.

Edited by Carolyn Allen
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