July 26, 2011
RE: Federal Alert, PACE Legislation Introduced in Congress
Last week, bipartisan legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives that would restore the ability of local governments to offer Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs to finance the installation of renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements. The bill, H.R. 2599, can be viewed at http://pacenow.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/HR-2599-PACE-Protection-Act-of-2011.pdf.
Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) is a local government/community initiative that creates permanent private sector jobs in America and makes our nation more energy secure by promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in our homes and commercial buildings. PACE is voluntary and community based, not mandated by Washington. It provides long term funding from private capital markets at low cost and needs no government subsidies or taxes. PACE raises property values by making buildings less expensive to heat and cool and it enjoys broad bipartisan support nationwide at state and local levels. Enabling legislation for PACE must be adopted by the state governments. To date, only 27 states have adopted PACE enabling legislation. New Jersey is not one of them.
The bill incorporates directly into the legislation best practices and guidelines from the Department of Energy to ensure safety for homeowners, private capital providers and existing mortgage lenders.
The PACE Assessment Protection Act of 2011 (H.R. 2599), sponsored by Reps. Nan Hayworth (R-N.Y.), Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) and Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), will prevent federal housing regulators from adopting policies that contravene established state and local property assessed clean energy laws.
“It’s not just a win-win situation, but win-win-win: homeowners get the benefit of lower utility bills; workers in the stagnating construction industry get jobs; and the nation gets the benefit of increased energy efficiency and reduced energy costs,” said the bill sponsors in a joint statement.
The bill has been referred to the House Financial Services Committee, but a time frame for committee action has not yet been determined. Our National League of Cities (NLC) supports this bill and has been working with other national organizations, such as the National Association of Counties and the PACENow (http://pacenow.org/blog/) coalition.
The PACE program allows local governments to provide funds to participating homeowners to install energy-efficiency upgrades, which are paid back over time in the form of a special assessment. Payments are typically secured by a lien on the property that gives local governments priority of repayment if the home goes into foreclosure.
When implemented in a community, the PACE program removes many of the barriers of energy efficiency and renewable energy retrofits for residential homeowners and businesses, particularly the high upfront cost of making such an investment and the long-term ability to reap the benefits of cost savings.
The PACE program helps municipalities work with building and property owners to make structures sustainable and decrease their impact on the environment and our energy supply.
Last year, the PACE program was dealt a setback when the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees the nation’s largest mortgage finance companies — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — issued a statement objecting to local governments holding the first lien on PACE homes, calling it a significant risk to the mortgage financier.
To date, no New Jersey Congressmen have signed on as co-sponsors to the bill. Please urge you Federal Representative to join as a co-sponsor of H.R. 2599.
You might also want to contact your State Senator and Assembly Members and suggest that they consider introducing legislation that would add New Jersey to the list of States that promote this important program.
If you have any questions, contact Jon Moran at 609-695-3481, ext. 121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.