A Local Spotlight on the National Effort to Undermine Property Assessed Clean Energy
Recent reports have called our attention to what appears to be a coordinated attack on Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE). PACE allows homeowners to finance residential and commercial energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, as well as hurricane-mitigation and other improvements, through property tax assessments.
Residential PACE programs have been authorized in California, Florida and Missouri. Although PACE has been a topic of growing debate in Florida and Missouri, we recently received a reader tip informing us that Bakersfield, California, has been subject to an intense anti-PACE backlash led by the California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.) and the Bakersfield Association of Realtors.
According to local residents, PACE is creating jobs throughout Bakersfield, as well as empowering families to make affordable clean energy improvements to their homes. However, the reader informed us that the realtors’ lobby has launched a concerted anti-PACE campaign to convince public officials to enact strict regulations designed to undermine the program.
One member of the City Council, Bob Smith, has built strong relationships with local realtor associations vigorously opposed to the PACE program.
Since we launched our Captured Regulators Initiative in January 2015, our investigative reporting has uncovered information about a number of government officials who have become captured by the very industries they were supposed to oversee. To help us understand if Councilmember Smith and/or others are captured regulators, we recently filed records requests with the Bakersfield City Clerk’s office.
As is the right of all citizens under the California Public Records Act, we requested the opportunity to examine Mr. Smith’s meeting calendars, phone and text message logs, and emails in which he conducted public business.
California’s Public Records Act requires a response within ten business days. We will report back what we learn from the City Clerk’s office, which might shed light on lobbyist efforts to sway key councilmembers against PACE.
You can read our two public records requests in their entirety by clicking on the images below.
If you have a tip related to this inquiry, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We protect all sources.
Scott Peterson is executive director of Checks and Balances Project, a national watchdog blog that seeks to hold government officials, lobbyists and corporate management accountable to the public. Funding for C&BP comes from sustainable economy philanthropies and donors.
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