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SD City Council Puts Solar Energy Program On Hold

The City Council today put on hold a program that would help San Diego property owners finance the installation of solar energy systems, following a call by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for mortgage lenders to steer clear of the programs.

The City Council sent the proposed Clean Generation Program back to Mayor Jerry Sanders' office, without a vote, pending a federal policy change or the outcome of recently announced litigation.

"For now, we are a bit frozen,'' City Attorney Jan Goldsmith told council members.

The city's program was a Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, program which would provide financial assistance to residents to install solar energy systems, which would then be repaid over a 20-year period on their property tax bill.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac recently declared PACE programs a loan, instead of an assessment, making them impermissible under their rules. The decision could threaten PACE programs now in the works around the country.

In response, state Attorney General Jerry Brown is suing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for blocking implementation of the program. Officials are also pursuing federal legislative changes that would permit the programs.

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