Photo by Cayusa via Creative Commons

This is the kind of wonky stuff you could ignore, but shouldn’t, if you’d prefer to power your home with cleaner sources of energy.

PACE, which stands for Property Assessed Clean Energy, allowed local and state governments to loan funds to homeowners for renewable energy and efficiency improvements, and pay the loans back over time via an assessment on their property taxes.

That means the cost of the investment stays with the property, rather than the owner, making improvements with long payback periods more financially attractive.

Twenty-seven states adopted the program, including Minnesota, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Illinois and Wisconsin. But following the Fannie and Freddie sub-prime mortgage crisis and a related federal order not to underwrite mortgages for homes with PACE loans, many residential PACE programs were put on hold. So much for that.

But a federal court ruling in California has revived the discussion, according to

The Federal Housing Finance Agency, the same folks who issued the order in 2010, have been told by a court to initiate a rulemaking process on PACE financing.

Public input needed

An advocacy group called PACE NOW is encouraging people to voice support for the program.

The bottom line, says the group: “PACE programs can drive energy projects that result in significant economic activity, federal, state and local tax revenue and jobs.” They point to examples like a PACE program in Boulder County, Colorado, which created more than 120 jobs, generated $20 million in overall economic activity and cut consumer energy use by more than $125,000 in its first year.

A national study commissioned by PACE NOW also concluded that $1 million spent on PACE improvements in four U.S. cities would generate $10 million in gross economic activity, a total of $1 million in federal, state and local tax revenue, and 60 jobs.

The four cities used in the study (by ECONorthwest) included Columbus, Ohio; along with Long Island, N.Y.; Santa Barbara, Calif.; and San Antonio, Texas.

People who want to see PACE resurrected can submit comments through March 26.

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