The Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, a government-backed, privately-administered energy upgrade program, is once again in the news courtesy of HBO’s John Oliver.
The program, which has been authorized and later abandoned in San Joaquin Valley cities and counties, provided residential and commercial property owners with long-term financing for energy upgrades on their properties.
Currently, the program is still operative in parts of Tulare County along with Fresno and Kings counties.
However, the program comes with a catch, consumer advocates and residential realtors say: the loan is applied to the property as a so-called “super lien,” which is prioritized over the mortgage on a property.
The program, cooked up in Berkeley, has gone through considerable reforms in California after solar contractors failed to engage in verify income levels, akin to the issuance of subprime mortgages to homebuyers in the early 2000s.
California PACE providers are still not required to determine if the cost of upgrades outstrips the prospective energy savings on the homes, raising more concern from consumers.