WHEREAS, utility bills represent a major part of operating costs for home and business owners; and
WHEREAS, the building sector accounts for 39 percent of the nation’s energy use, 72 percent of its electricity use, one third of all global greenhouse gas emissions and represents the single largest, most accessible opportunity for deep emission cuts in the United States; and
WHEREAS, investing in cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements to homes and businesses can save energy, cut utility bills up to $140 billion per year, create thousands of local jobs, reduce reliance on fossil fuels, and dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and
WHEREAS, Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing programs are an innovative local government solution to help property owners finance energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements – such as energy efficient boilers, upgraded insulation, new windows, solar installations, etc. – to their homes and businesses; and
WHEREAS, the PACE program removes many of the barriers of energy efficiency and renewable energy retrofits that otherwise exist for residential homeowners and businesses, particularly the high upfront cost of making such an investment and the long-term ability to reap the benefits of cost savings; and
WHEREAS, 28 states plus the District of Columbia have provided local governments with the authority to develop PACE programs; and
WHEREAS, dozens of local governments throughout the country have already launched or are in the process of launching PACE programs to fund energy improvements on commercial buildings; and
WHEREAS, locally-administered PACE programs are an exercise of the traditional authority of local governments to utilize the tax code for public benefit; and
WHEREAS, PACE programs help local governments meet a core obligation to their citizens to maintain housing stock and improve housing opportunities for all citizens; and
WHEREAS, the PACE program is an achievement of the intergovernmental partnership to realize national policy goals, namely, reducing energy consumption, that will positively impact the fiscal conditions of every level of government; and
WHEREAS, despite PACE’s great promise, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency on July 6, 2010 issued statements that immediately forced existing residential PACE programs to halt operations and froze the development of dozens of PACE programs nationwide; and
WHEREAS, the U.S. District Court in Oakland, California on January 20, 2012 ruled that FHFA’s actions improperly bypassed the rulemaking process and ordered the agency to undertake a formal rulemaking process; and
WHEREAS, FHFA has closed comments on the rulemaking process but has not yet promulgated a new rule on this issue,
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) urges Congress to adopt legislation that clearly reaffirms the right of state and local governments to exercise liens or assess special taxes or other property obligations to protect and improve housing stock for the public good, including energy efficiency improvements, by directing federal regulators to enforce underwriting standards that are consistent with guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Energy for PACE financing programs or by implementing any other appropriate measure.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors encourages mayors to consider implementing commercial PACE programs, which are unaffected by FHFA’s actions and provide owners of commercial buildings with a new tool for financing energy efficiency improvements and realizing substantial energy savings.