California legislature sets the PACE for a clean energy future

As usual, California is setting the pace for a clean energy future by passing two pieces of legislation designed to expand its … er … PACE program.

When the state’s legislature passed Assembly Bill (AB) 1284 and Senate Bill (SB) 242, it simultaneously strengthened consumer productions and provided a regulatory framework that will provide stringent oversight of residential Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program administrators.

Essentially, PACE programs allow homeowners to avoid the upfront costs of installing PV systems on or making energy efficiency upgrades to their homes by financing them through property taxes. The calculation is that homeowners will be able to pay the increase in property taxes using the energy savings gained from the renovations.

AB 1284 establishes the California Department of Business Oversight (DBO)  as the regulatory body that will oversee residential PACE administrators. It also institutes licensing requirements for contractors, new underwriting guidelines for PACE projects that include income verification and ability-to-pay standards, and other consumer protection enhancements.

SB 242 standardizes best practice guidelines and disclosures for residential PACE administrators by requiring that they record live phone calls with customers to confirm that program participants understand the terms of the agreement, inform them of their three-day right to cancel and mandates that administrators report all transactions to public agencies.

“Nearly $4 billion in upgrades shows that California homeowners embrace PACE as the best way to pay for improvements that make homes more comfortable, energy efficient and resilient against natural disasters,” said David Gabrielson, executive director of PACENation, a national organization dedicated to expanding PACE programs in all 50 states.

“State regulation is an important next-step in the evolving PACE marketplace, and we are thrilled that the legislation provides a pathway to ensure the safety and protection of PACE consumers,” Gabrielson added.