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Mission of the York Energy Efficiency Committee

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Maine towns showing interest in PACE

A number of local communities are investigating or taking steps to adopt PACE ordinances. From an article in the keepmecurrent.com news site:

Towns backing energy efficiency loan program

Posted: Wednesday, September 29, 2010

By Michael Kelley

SCARBOROUGH – The Scarborough Town Council recently approved the town’s participation in the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Act program, a program facilitated by Efficiency Maine to help residents conduct weatherization upgrades at their homes.

A public hearing will be held on the subject at the Oct. 6 Scarborough Town Council meeting.

Other towns could soon follow Scarborough’s lead.

The Cape Elizabeth Town Council has decided to pass the topic on to the Ordinance Committee, which has been provided with a copy of a model ordinance by the state from Town Manager Mike McGovern. The committee is expected to make a recommendation to the council soon.

The South Portland City Council is also expected to decide whether or not to adopt the ordinance, after discussing it briefly at their Sept. 20 meeting. The council voted unanimously to act on the ordinance at its Oct. 4 meeting.

At the Sept. 20 meeting, Councilor Tom Blake called it an “excellent ordinance” and one that goes along with the city’s desire to be a clean and sustainable community.

Debbie Atwood, a representative from the Maine Green Energy Alliance, a subgroup of Efficiency Maine, an organization established to strengthen energy conservation in the state, said the PACE program was made possible through a $30 million federal stimulus grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The bulk of that grant – $20 million – has been set aside for the program.

Through the program homeowners are eligible for up to $15,000 from a revolving loan fund to do a variety of home energy improvements, including insulation, air sealing and heating system upgrades, among other improvements. Interest rates are likely to be between 5 and 7 percent.

There are no income restrictions to participate in the program. Eligible homeowners are required to be up to date on their property taxes and sewer charges, have no outstanding tax or sewer liens and not be subject to a reverse mortgage or a notice of delinquency or foreclosure.

The article goes on to clarify some details that were unclear during discussion at YEEC’s August meeting. For example:

Efficiency Maine Executive Director Michael Stoddard said 30 percent of the loan is given to the homeowners before the work is done to help get the work started. The balance of the loan is given upon completion of the work. He said this gives Efficiency Maine some assurance that the work was done correctly and is indeed energy efficient.

Other details:

Once homeowners have a set of recommendations in hand [from an approved energy auditor], they can choose which ones to follow. The one exception is additional insulation, which must be installed under the program if it is recommended and a loan is accepted.

The homeowner can hire any contractor to do the work. The auditor is required to return to the home to test the energy efficiency of the home after the improvements are made.

Stoddard noted that Efficiency Maine is continuing to iron out the details of the program, including the final loan interest rates and the length of the loan period.

Read the rest of the story or go to the Efficiency Maine information page at http://www.efficiencymaine.com/pace.

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