“I believe that the PACE program is critical to stimulating our local and statewide economy. I’m glad to see this lawsuit filed so that this novel program can continue.” --San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, joining Brown at today's press conference in San Diego
July 14, 2010 (San Diego) – California Attorney General Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown today filed a lawsuit against mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for blocking the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs nationwide. View a video of today's press conference in San Diego:
“As the nation struggles through the worst recession in modern times, California is taking action in federal court to stop the regulatory strangulation of the state’s grass-roots program that is spreading across the country,” said Attorney General Brown, a former governor who is running for governor again. “Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac received enormous federal bailouts but now they’re throwing up impermeable barriers to bank lending that creates jobs, stimulates the economy and boosts clean energy.”
PACE, an innovative California program that has spread across the nation, allows property owners to pay for energy upgrades over time through a special tax assessment. A San Diego County program set to go into effect this summer lets homeowners and business owners pay for energy upgrades through their property taxes, allowing residents to enjoy energy savings on utility bills right away while deferring costs over time. San Diego has been forced to suspend its program, leaving 100 people trained in energy retrofits without jobs.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac effectively shut down the program by characterizing PACE assessments as loans that must be subordinate to their own mortgages, a decision affirmed by the Federla Housing Finance Agency on July 6.
Brown held a press conference to announce the suit today at the California Center for Sustainable Energy in San Diego. A bipartisan group of local elected officials present included County Supervisors Dianne Jacob and Pam Slater-Price, Assemblymembers Mary Salas and Marty Block, Councilmember Marti Emerald, and Mayor Sanders.
Although the issue is federal, the only federal presence was Congressional candidate Ray Lutz, an engineer who has led fights to combat the power of big energy utilities, observed Michael Russell with San Diego’s SUSTAINABLE FUTURE. (Lutz, a Democrat, is running against Republican Congressman Duncan D. Hunter.)
SUSTAINABLE FUTURE has set up a website for people to send e-mails to their Congressional representatives at http://sdsustainablefuture.blogspot.com/2010/06/help-support-property-assessed-clean.html.
When these PACE programs become regular practice, SUSTAINABLE FUTURE predicts our region will see thousands of new jobs and hundreds of new industries move forward, as our energy economy shifts to efficient renewable energy sources.
Brown has sent a letter to President Obama asking him to do "everything within his power" to resolve the issue and avoid the need for litigation. Supervisors Jacob and Slater-Cox sent a similar letter to the President as well as San Diego's Congressional delegation last week, as ECM reported.