How lovely: California may lose $33 million in energy-efficiency funds because officials in Riverside County are upset they didn’t get more than half of the sum for their region.
Earlier this year the Western Riverside Council of Governments, which represents part of a county of 2 million, asked for $20 million of the state’s pot of Property Assessed Home Energy (PACE) funds. Los Angeles, by contrast, requested $4.7 million for its population of 3.8 million. Riverside also ignored energy requirements in the guidelines and insisted that the money should be spent only on installing solar panels (which is stupid; homeowners should seal up leaks before adding solar). When it wasn’t awarded a cut of the money, Riverside issued a complaint — after missing a filing deadline.
They’re now fighting for the money in the courts — and a Riverside County Superior Court judge issued a restraining order freezing the money until a Nov. 4 hearing at least. But if the federal stimulus money isn’t committed by October 21, it goes back to Washington.
“Western Riverside’s lawsuit threatens to derail a comprehensive statewide jobs program by holding up $33 million in stimulus funds – funds that would benefit the entire state, including citizens of Riverside County,” California Energy Commission Chairman Karen Douglas said in a release.
So even if Riverside wins the suit, it loses, and so does the rest of the state.
If that weren’t absurd enough, the whole issue is essentially moot, because PACE programs are currently shut down by objections by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and their federal regulator (backstory). The state Energy Commissions created a replacement home-efficiency program, Energy Upgrade California, to use the funds meant for PACE.
Now that could be neutered too, unless Riverside officials back down.