Fannie & Freddie trying to kill the green collar economy?

Property-assessed clean energy (PACE) financing has caught on quickly around the country: from Berkeley to Baton Rouge, localities and states have recognized the environmental and economic benefits of creating financing opportunities for renewable energy and efficiency upgrades for home and business owners.

Last week, government-backed mortgage lending agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac threw a giant monkey wrench into the growth of PACE by “refusing to accept loans on buildings in the program.” Both Grist and Environmental Leader have thorough overviews of the broad issues at stake.

How Fannie and Freddie’s decision could undo local green collar economic development

A local snapshot provides a good indicator of what this could mean for the growth of green business and jobs, though, and the Long Island Press did just that yesterday. The town of Babylon, NY plans to file suit against the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which oversees Fannie and Freddie, as the Long Island Green Homes Program has provided a significant boost to the local economy (see one example in the video above).

According to the article, the local PACE program has some impressive numbers to boast:

  • Over 500 Babylon homeowners have participated in the program
  • On average, these homeowners save $1000 /year on energy costs
  • The program’s provided a significant boost to job creation in a town where “contractors… have 25 percent of their trades out of work”
  • In a number of cases, young entrepreneurs have opened shop in Babylon because of the program.

Seems like a no-brainer, right? Apparently, though, Fannie and Freddie don’t consider such successes as “…traditional community benefits associated with taxing initiatives.”

While Babylon will fight this decision in the courts, Long Island Congressman Steve Israel is also at work on legislation… might be worth keeping tabs on, and letting your own representative know your support for PACE when the bill goes into the hopper.

Know of other examples of PACE programs spurring the creation of green businesses and jobs? Tell us about them…


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