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PACE Protection Act: House Bill Pushes For Green Homeowners Plan

Pace

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 07/21/11 07:11 PM ET Updated: 09/20/11 06:12 AM ET

Private homeowners relish the freedom to refurbish their homes as they please. With that freedom comes the onus of financing the cost of those changes.

A bipartisan group of House officials is recognizing that issue, preparing legislation that will encourage participation in an energy-efficient plan.

California's Lake County Record-Bee reports that Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-New York), Rep. Dan Lundgren (R-California) and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-California) have drafted the PACE Protection Act of 2011. The bill aims to amplify the benefits of the Property Assessed Clean Energy Program (PACE) -- a local plan that offers energy-savvy financing.

PACE promotes the adoption of green home add-ons by reducing the pressures associated with government subsidies. This voluntary option allows residents to gradually pay back loans on environmentally-friendly projects through their property taxes, lowering the brunt of upfront costs. A map on PACENow's website shows that states have passed PACE legislation under both Republican and Democratic majorities.

The Stockton Record compiled reactions from the California side, where Rep. Lungren sees this program as not only reducing energy bills, but boosting the job market. On the other coast, New York's Middletown Times Herald-Record filed similar sentiments from Rep. Hayworth, who specifically referenced the immediate relief for taxpayers interested in these types of improvements.

But a major barrier to this option rests within the interests of federal guarantors. The Stockton Record adds that major mortgage backers like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac oppose the lien structure, which gives precedent to PACE over government-backed money.

Rep. Thompson denounced that perspective in a blog for The Huffington Post, noting that PACE financing options are not "loans" that lie on the shoulders of the "person" living within the home. In turn, the Golden State Democrat argued that the actions of Fannie and Freddie are "limiting local governments' abilities to provide benefits to the public."


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