Updated Consumer Protection Policies, released at PACENation Summit, form basis for enforceable state and local legislation
DENVER, Feb. 16 – PACENation, the national, non-profit advocacy organization for Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing, today announced an important update to its 2016 residential PACE Consumer Protection Policies. The enhanced standards include customer supports and safeguards that go well beyond those found in any other form of home-improvement financing and are designed to facilitate the successful expansion of PACE to new states and local communities.
Homeowners use PACE to make qualified energy and efficiency upgrades to their properties and pay for them over time with a new line item on their property taxes. To date, PACE has empowered more than 130,000 homeowners to invest over $3.4 billion in projects that make their homes more comfortable and less expensive to heat, light and cool. It is estimated that PACE projects will help lower residential utility bills by billions of dollars. Local government sponsors of PACE point to the energy and environmental goals PACE helps achieve, the more than 20-thousand jobs that PACE has created or supports in their communities, and that it has little or no impact on their public budgets.
The newly updated policies, released at the 2017 PACENation Summit in Denver today, adopt key components of the U.S. Department of Energy’s best practices for residential PACE financing programs announced in November 2016. The updated policies include the following requirements:
- all PACE programs must offer simple but comprehensive disclosures which provide a clear, three day right to cancel and are modeled on the federal Know-Before-You-Owe disclosure form now used for home mortgages, even though the average PACE assessment is under $25,000;
- all PACE programs must confirm financing terms by phone with 100 percent of customers in a live, recorded call that reinforces the written disclosures;
- all PACE programs must set standards governing contractor marketing practices and workmanship issues, including adopting processes to resolve and remediate homeowner complaints – a level of consumer protection not available with any other form of home improvement financing;
- all PACE programs must develop a forbearance program for homeowners who unexpectedly suffer financial hardship, including extra protections for U.S. military servicemembers; and
- PACE providers must begin collecting monthly household income and debt obligations at the time of homeowner application in order to help develop income-based financing criteria that PACENation will use to amend underwriting standards.
PACENation encourages government issuing partners and state governments to adopt the Consumer Protection Policies to ensure that all PACE providers are held to high standards and that these standards are commonly adhered to across all PACE programs.
“As PACE catches on in communities across the country, meaningful standards for all providers will help deliver on PACE’s promise,” said PACENation Executive Director David Gabrielson. “It’s clear that PACE is making a difference overcoming barriers that have really hindered broader use of smart energy technologies. State and local government partners should require these safeguards, giving greater peace of mind to homeowners and policymakers.”
The updated Consumer Protection Polices build on the standards that PACENation issued last year, which included underwriting requirements, post-funding support for homeowners, privacy policies, contractor requirements, controls for eligible measures and product confirmation processes – not found through other forms of financing – and other provisions.
Many of the new consumer protections have already been deployed in the market by the largest residential PACE providers in recent months, and are also supported by the many government partners who make PACE financing possible in hundreds of communities across the United States.
PACENation looks forward to working with stakeholders, including government issuing partners, PACE providers, and consumer advocates to implement these standards in ways that are simple, usable and enforceable.
PACENation is a national, non-profit organization serving the interests and needs of over 300 member organizations that share a common goal of making PACE financing available to all building owners throughout the United States. PACENation is building a broader PACE network by providing standards, information, resources, and advice to a growing universe of PACE market stakeholders. To learn more, visit http://www.PACENation.us.