The PACE Soap Opera Continues


It seems that soap operas did not, in fact, go away after the 80s. Because the ongoing saga of efforts to establish Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing programs play like an energy wonk’s version of ‘As the World Turns’.

We’re writing with an update, and a request to take action to help clean energy solutions in America.

The update: after FHFA prohibited Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from purchasing mortgages on PACE homes and issued statements threatening potential foreclosure on participants in residential PACE programs, a number of entities sued FHFA, claiming their action was not lawfully done. The court forced FHFA to go through a rulemaking process to justify its position, and over 40,000 people and organizations provided comments, data, and analysis in support of PACE. Nonetheless, FHFA appealed, and — in a turn of events as shocking as a long-lost identical twin recovering her memory to identify the true killer — the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the order and dismissed the case.

What does this mean? We don’t yet know whether the plaintiffs (State of California, Sonoma County, Placer County, City of Palm Desert and the Sierra Club) will appeal the decision. But if this were to stand, as far as we can tell the FHFA could dispense with the rulemaking process, and we are back to the status quo before the lawsuit. That is, FHFA would be free to follow through on their threats to foreclose on participants and redline communities that offer PACE programs. Harsh! Like finding out that you were accidentally switched at birth and are actually a Kardashian.

Or…there’s a no-drama solution. FHFA could listen to the 40,000 people, companies, organizations, and elected officials that want to see effective clean energy financing solutions. FHFA could continue to engage in constructive rulemaking to develop best-practice program guidelines and fair underwriting standards. The FHFA could also incorporate new findings into their thinking, such as this University of North Carolina study showing that owners of energy efficient houses are 32% less likely to default on mortgages, and work constructively on a solution that simultaneously reduces default risk and makes the world a better place. A happy ending!

So here’s our call to action. We want you contact FHFA and encourage their better angels. Can you be Bold and Beautiful, and provide a Guiding Light for FHFA?

These are the Days of Our Lives, and we can’t afford to waste them in inefficient homes. Do it for All My Children.

Vote Solar is a non-profit grassroots organization working to fight climate change and foster economic opportunity by bringing solar energy into the mainstream.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.