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Keeping PACE With Energy Efficiency Comes To A Halt

July 20, 2010

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Missouri is "on pace" to make it more affordable for homeowners to make their houses more energy efficient, now that Governor Jay Nixon has signed the Property Assessed Clean Energy bill, or PACE, into law. But PACE programs all over the country are coming to a halt now that the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has raised questions about possible risks in the case that the homeowner defaults on the house.

Dennis Murphey is the chief environmental officer for the municipality of Kansas City, and says this latest development with PACE is very disappointing.

"It's not going to keep us from continuing to promote energy efficiency as something that we think is worthwhile to do, but it does limit one particularly attractive option that a lot of cities were looking at."

PACE is a finance mechanism allowing homeowners to pay for upgrades through a special property tax assessment which is passed on to the next homeowner when the house is sold. Despite the nationwide concerns, Murphey and other city and county leaders in the state attended a PACE workshop last week by Renew Missouri to learn what it takes to implement a program in their municipality.

Murphey says he's hopeful PACE will get back on track.

"There's a lot of high level discussions because the Department of Energy and the White House are very much committed trying to figure out how to make the financing mechanisms for energy efficiency investment work better. And PACE was seen as the attractive tool to help that happen. "

Missouri is the 21st state to use PACE. PACE began in Berkeley, California, in 2007, and just last week that state's Attorney General filed a lawsuit against the FHFA as a result of the federal agency's negative view of PACE.

Heather Claybrook, Public News Service - MO