Legislator Introduces Bill To Save PACE Programs

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A San Francisco Bay area congressman and other lawmakers have introduced legislation that would order lenders to support Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs, including pilot plans in Fresno and Kern counties.

Mike Thompson, D-Ca, introduced HR 5766, or "Pace Assessment Protection Act of 2010," with 29 co-sponsors. The bill would allow homeowners to make energy-efficient upgrades to their houses and repay the cost through their property tax bills.

"PACE programs are an important part of the push to create a green economy and reduced our reliance on foreign oil," Thompson said in a statement. "This is especially important in California, which has already taken significant steps to ensure PACE programs are available to 70% of Californians by the end of 2010."

Thompson wrote the bill as a response to actions by mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which don't support the current program. The FHFA says the plans promote unsound underwriting guidelines are are too risky because the PACE liens would have priority over mortgage debt if the homeowner defaults.

Thompson says that even modest implementation of PACE could create 160,000 green jobs in the United States, and potentially cut the average energy bill a total of $5,000 to $14,000.

The legislation came only a few days after California Attorney General Jerry Brown filed a lawsuit against Fannie and Freddie.
California PACE programs are operational in the City and County of San Francisco, Sonoma County, Placer County, Palm Desert and Yucaipa. Programs are set to launch in 2010 in the following jurisdictions: Los Angeles County, San Diego City, Alameda County, Fresno County, Kern County, Monterey County, Sacramento County, San Diego County, San Benito County, San Luis Obispo County, San Mateo County, Santa Barbara County, Santa Clara County, Santa Cruz County, Solano County, Ventura County.

The San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization (SJVCEO) will continue to follow developments in this issue.

The 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.