Pacific Gas & Electric Co., the giant San Francisco-based utility, has named three preferred lenders for those who buy newly built energy- efficient homes.

The arrangement will give the lenders access to perhaps 20,000 borrowers.

Norwest Mortgage Inc., Des Moines, Iowa; Downey Savings and Loan Association, Newport Beach, Calif.; and GMAC Mortgage Corp., Elkins Park, Pa., will begin offering the homebuyers special low rates and incentives on April 17, according to mortgage bankers familiar with the plan.

David Altscher, a product manager for the utility, confirmed that it had chosen three lenders, but declined to name them.

"We also see it as a great opportunity to send some added business to some of these participating lenders," he said.

The program is part of the utility's Comfort Homes plan, which provides contractors with incentives for to build new homes in Northern and Central California that are at least 10% more energy efficient than state standards.

Now, the utility will try to appeal directly to consumers.

In the last few years, 20,000 homes qualified for the program, and another 20,000 such homes will be built over the next three to four years, Mr. Altscher said. He said the program will be opened to other lenders next year.

Under the program, homebuyers can get $500 off closing costs, guaranteed 14-day loan commitments, and other perks from the preferred lenders, said mortgage bankers familiar with the deal.

"This gives you added incentive to get a new home or redesign a home," said Therese M. Albertini, a GMAC vice president. "That is smart business."

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