Keeping Pace?: The Case Against Property Assessed Clean Energy Financing Programs
31 Pages Posted: 9 Jan 2011 Last revised: 3 Feb 2017
Date Written: January 7, 2011
Property Assessed Clean Energy (“PACE”) is a method of public financing for energy improvements through special assessments on local government property taxes. Interest in PACE exploded from its origination in 2008, with almost half the states rapidly enacted legislation enabling local governments to use their property collection power for this purpose. The growth in PACE is now suspended, and existing programs have been put on hold, in the face of opposition from the federal secondary mortgage market regulators. Governments and environmental advocates supporting PACE have initiated litigation against the federal regulators and are seeking passage of federal legislation to revive the programs. This Article argues that the theory underlying PACE is fundamentally flawed. PACE has been promoted as an alternative to traditional real estate financing that resolves the impediments to homeowners investing in alternative energy and energy efficiency. A careful analysis of these claims demonstrates that PACE in actual practice will operate similarly to most other types of real estate financing, and that the efforts to reconstruct PACE programs through litigation or legislation are misplaced. Instead, PACE programs should be radically restructured or should be considered a creative yet failed experiment offering valuable lessons for future residential energy investment programs.
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