The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental group, has filed a lawsuit in a federal district court against the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), claiming the regulators halted the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs without justification and without following the proper protocol as required by law.
‘Federal housing regulators are standing in the way of programs that make clean energy projects affordable for homeowners and lower electricity bills,’ says Katherine Kennedy, energy counsel at the NRDC. ‘It defies common sense that the federal government is blocking programs that could create jobs, jump-start our economy, put money in homeowners' pockets and fight climate change at the same time.’
With PACE programs, the up-front costs of property owners' clean energy projects are financed by municipalities. Homeowners then pay off the projects as an incremental charge on their property taxes over an extended period of up to 20 years.Â
In July, the FHFA and the OCC issued statements to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the national banks that effectively halted PACE energy efficiency programs nationwide. The result has been a freeze on nearly all existing and planned PACE programs, the NRDC says.
The NRDC adds that the FHFA and the OCC failed to conduct a review of the environmental impacts and to provide the public an opportunity to comment before taking this action.
The full complaint can be found here.