Calif. Attorney General Sues Over PACE Pause

California Attorney General Jerry Brown filed a lawsuit today against Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac because the mortgage giants are blocking an innovative program to finance energy upgrades and create badly needed jobs.

The mortgage agencies have said, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency affirmed, they won't support Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs because the liens receive priority over mortgage debt. The loans, financed through sales of bonds, are repaid through property tax assessments over 20 years. The Housing Finance Agency wanted more safeguards installed.

Brown blasted Fannie and Freddie for taking huge government bailouts, and then thwarting efforts to generate jobs and lower energy bills while putting more than $100 million in federal stimulus money in California at risk.

The stakes are high, Brown said in a statement. Almost half the counties in California - including Fresno and Kern, which are participating in a pilot program - have PACE-style plans in place or propose one.

He cited San Diego as an example. The city planned a PACE program this summer, but the plan has been suspended and more than 100 people trained in energy retrofits are without jobs.

Brown's bashing comes on the heels of harsh words by California Gov. Arnold Schswarzenegger, the executive director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and others.

Officials at Fannie and Freddie reportedly had no comment on the latest developments.

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.