By Sacramento Business Journal

California Attorney General Jerry Brown on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against The Federal Housing Finance Agency and mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the wake of the federal agencyâ¿¿s negative assessment of the Property Assessed Clean Energy Program.

Brown, Californiaâ¿¿s Democratic candidate for governor, asks the court to require Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to recognize PACE assessments.

"As the nation struggles through the worst recession in modern times, California is taking action in federal court to stop the regulatory strangulation of the state's grass-roots program that is spreading across the country," Brown said in a news release.

The PACE program, which aimed to help homeowners afford expensive energy upgrades through assessments on their property taxes, was popular in California until it was shut down last week. Placer County had received 134 applications for $5.27 million in energy efficiency retrofitting for its program, mPOWER Placer.

Officials have estimated the PACE program could drive up to $1 billion in new projects and create up to 20,600 jobs in the state.

But last week the federal housing agency agreed with statement by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that the assessments usurp the first position of federally backed mortgages. All PACE programs were suspended as a result of the assessment.

However the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to keep itâ¿¿s PACE program - dubbed Sonoma County Energy Independence Program - open to applications.

⿿It is truly shortsighted of one federal agency to not understand the benefits of PACE programs, especially of the SCEIP,⿝ Sonoma County Chairwoman Valerie Brown said in a news release. ⿿Our program reflects investments in clean energy, local job creation and fiscal produce. We know hampering consumer⿿s use of these voluntary assessments is a bad call. Our Board⿿s action will ensure people are fully informed of the options, risks and opportunities that exist when they work with SCEIP.⿝

Sonoma Countyâ¿¿s program has financed more than $34.5 million in approved contracts for 1,046 projects, which they estimated have reduced local green house reduction by 1,900 tons per year.

Copyright 2010 American City Business Journals

Copyright 2010