A fast-growing program that allows homeowners to embrace energy-efficiency upgrades — such as installing solar panels on their homes — is losing a lot of power. Placer County has stopped about $1.5 million in residential remodels for energy-efficiency upgrades after federal government-sponsored loan agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac said the Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, program makes counties the first lienholder if homeowners default on their mortgages.
Under the program, homeowners fund upfront costs for energy-efficiency upgrades through a property tax assessment that is paid back with interest over 20 years. But federal officials say the PACE program is a loan, not an assessment – and that makes counties the primary lienholder on the home mortgage. For now, the programs, which have been introduced in numerous counties, including Sacramento and Yolo, are in limbo until the issue can be resolved.