Boxer Offers Up Bill To Keep PACE Alive

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U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and colleagues from three other states have joined the fight to keep Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs in place, offering a companion bill to a House version introduced earlier.

Boxer, Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Mark Begich (D-AK) introduced a bill Thursday to protect the energy-efficiency and job generating PACE programs. "The current uncertainty surrounding PACE programs is jeopardizing $110 million in federal investments for California communities, which is simply unacceptable," Boxer said in a statement. "We must take action to protect these initiatives because they create jobs, save homeowners money on their energy bills and help our environment."

PACE programs create bond-financing mechanisms to loan money for energy-saving retrofits. Owners repay the loans over 20 years through their property-tax bills.

Mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, along with the Federal Housing Finance Agency, opposed the program because PACE debt is higher priority than mortgage debt should property owners default.

The FHFA ordered Fannie and Freddie to take additonal actions to limit the use of PACE programs in connection with their home mortgages. And there is some concern the controversy could spread to commercial properties even though Fannie and Freddie have no authority over them.

It's anybody's guess what happens at this point. There has been talk of creating a large pilot program to test PACE or abandoning the residential program in favor of one focused on commercial buildings - where there is likely to be more bang for the buck anyway.

The San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization is a nonprofit dedicated to improving our region's quality of life by increasing its production and use of clean and alternative energy. The SJVCEO works with cities and counties and public and private organizations to demonstrate the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy throughout the eight-county region of the San Joaquin Valley.