Now more than ever, states are paving the way to a clean energy future for our nation — leading the way in innovation, and creating the clean energy models that can ultimately be adopted at the federal level.

One great example of this are state programs that make energy efficiency upgrades and  small scale renewable energy projects more affordable for homeowners and lower their electricity bills. With these programs, called PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) programs, homeowners are already financing clean energy projects like this in California, Colorado and New York – and enjoying the savings. Twenty other states and the District of Columbia have also authorized the programs to move forward.

Unfortunately – federal housing finance regulators have recently interfered, taking  administrative actions that have effectively halted these programs nationwide. NRDC today filed a lawsuit against the regulators (which oversee Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac & the national banks) to stop this obstruction.

Americans are lowering their electricity bills with PACE programs

I’ll get to the lawsuit later. But first let me give you a little background on why PACE programs are so good for the environment AND homeowners’ wallets. With PACE programs, municipalities finance the initial cost of energy efficiency improvements or small scale renewable energy projects for homeowners, who pay them off in small increments that are added to property taxes over an extended period of up to 20 years. From the start, homeowners often save more on their bills thanks to the clean energy projects, than the cost of the payments. Participation in PACE programs is entirely voluntary and the payments are transferred to the next property owner if the current resident decides to move. They can be used to fund anything from better insulation, to more efficient windows, more efficient heating and cooling systems, and solar panels.

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