Another nail was added to a public financing program for residential efficiency retrofits. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth District ruled March 19 that the Federal Housing Finance Agency did not need to justify its action with a rulemaking, as directed by a lower court. The federal agency forbade Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing on homes with new federal mortgages in 2010. \tThe court of appeals ruling stated that \u201cneither we nor the district court have jurisdiction over Plaintiffs\u2019\u2013Appellees\u2019 claims.\u201d It reasoned that the agency acted within its authority under its conservatorship power granted by Congress at the height of the housing crisis in 2009. \t\u201cWe are disappointed that the Ninth Circuit didn\u2019t recognize the value of the retrofit program,\u201d said Jim Leddy, Sonoma County community and regulatory affairs director, one of the parties that sued FHFA. \u201cWe will continue to advocate for the innovative program that reduces greenhouse gases and creates public sector jobs.\u201d \tSonoma County\u2014 joined by the state of California, Placer County, the City of Palm Desert, and the Sierra Club\u2014sued the housing authority after it issued a directive banning mortgages on houses that have PACE financing. PACE, launched by Berkeley and used by regional entities across California and the U.S., provided upfront financing for residential energy efficiency and renewable retrofits in exchange for long-term property tax assessments. Municipalities arrange or make the loans and administer the program. Sonoma County is working with other mortgage lenders to allow the county program to continue to grow, Leddy said. For homes with retrofit assessments and a federal mortgage, Sonoma has informed home owners that the public financing must be paid off prior to any sale. The suing parties successfully asserted in the lower district court that the anti-PACE decree by the federal rulemaking under the Administrative Procedure Act was a regulatory action requiring a rulemaking. The lower court ruling was reversed this week. The appeals court concluded FHFA acted within its statutory authority as conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It dismissed the case. FHFA\u2019s ban on PACE funding does not apply to commercial buildings.