Share of Cost, Reality outPACEs Energy Dept.’s green retrofitting program
Maryland homeowners who want federal help to add energy-efficiency improvements are going to have to wait for a while, as Cody Calamaio reports in the Montgomery County, MD Gazette. The same holds true for would-be green home repair projects around the country. The federal program, called Property-Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, was introduced as part of the Energy Department’s stimulus package, and it seems like a promising idea. The basic concept is to offer homeowners a government-backed home equity loan of up to $25,000 that can be used for financing insulation, new windows, white roofs, or solar energy installations. PACE is supposed to bring the energy savings for each consumer close to the amount they’ll have to pay each month for the loan.
But the PACE program allows private lenders who use the government’s guarantee to place a lien on a property if homeowners don’t pay, and it’s caused concerns among mortgage financing companies around the country, including everyone’s favorites, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Since they give the largest loans, they want the first lien.
The DOE says they still support PACE, but “residential PACE financing programs with a senior lien priority face substantial implementation challenges in the current regulatory environment.”
In other words, don’t expect anyone to lend you money to weatherize your house until they get this figured out. The next step, according to the DOE, is to make PACE loans subordinate to mortgages, which is probably what they should have done in the first place.