Two Bills Providing Increased Protection For PACE Customers

By Roy L Hales

Close to 150,000 Californian homeowners have made energy and efficiency improvements through Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. For the most part they are success stories, but there are isolated reports of problems with “independent solar, plumbing and roofing contractors who pitch the loans and sign up consumers through online software.” The California state legislature responded with two bills providing increased protection for PACE customers. 

Two Bills Providing Increased Protection For PACE Customers

Courtesy Sen. Nancy Skinner’s Twitter Feed

Governor Jerry Brown signed them into law on October 4, 2017.

Assembly Bill (AB) 1284 ensures that:

  • PACE program administrators would have to enroll, train and monitor the activities of home improvement contractors and salespeople that act on their behalf;
  • PACE program administrators would have to determine a property owner’s ability to pay the annual payment obligations of a PACE assessment before a lien is placed on their property;
  • Properties that qualify for PACE assessments would be subject to new limits on the amount of financing based on the property’s value.

Senate Bill (SB) 242 adds important consumer protections to:

  • ensure that owners are fully aware of loan terms and understand that loan payments are made through their property tax bills. provides a 3-day right to cancel
  • make it illegal for any “kickbacks” or other marketing incentives to be paid to contractors.

“California is the national leader in PACE financing. SB 242 adds consumer safeguards so homeowners can continue to enjoy a convenient tool to finance energy, water and earthquake safety upgrades to their homes and properties,” said Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), author of the senate bill.

Problems With Contractors Using PACE

Cisco DeVries, the father of PACE financing. He was the Mayor of Berkeley’s Chief of staff when he came up with what Scientific American would later call one of the top 20 “world-changing” ideas of 2007 (PACE).

This legislation is meant to prevent the reoccurrence of incidents similar to those recently reported in the  Los Angeles Times.

A Spanish speaking couple, who do not understand English,  allege they did not know that the contract they signed was for more than $100,000.

An elderly woman claims that she thought the contractor presented her with a document authorizing them to check her creditworthiness, not a loan application.

Someone who thought they were authorizing a job worth $20,000 ended up with a bill for $120,000.

These appear to be isolated incidents and, in each case, the alleged perpetrator was a local contractor – not a PACE financing company.

Cisco  DeVries, CEO of Renew Financial and the father of PACE financing, told the Times that the vast majority of PACE customers are extremely happy with the program, “We have had homeowners in tears.”

He added, “Any public policy, any private effort, by nature is going to be imperfect. But PACE has to be one of the most successful energy-efficiency programs in the history of the state and the country.”

Endorsed By The Leading PACE Programs

Cropped image from the HERO PACE page on Renovate America's website
Cropped image from the HERO PACE page on Renovate America’s website

This legislation is fully endorsed by the state’s leading PACE programs.

“Consumers, local governments, environmental advocates, small business organizations, the banking industry, and PACE providers all contributed to establishing enforceable standards, underwriting and a regulatory framework to make PACE like other financing products. Homeowners have shown they want this type of solution. Now the leadership of Senator Skinner and Assemblyman Dababneh [AB 1284] has evolved PACE into a long-term viable solution for homeowners … ,” said JP McNeill, CEO of Renovate America, the nation’s largest PACE program

“This legislation establishes strong industry standards that will benefit homeowners uniformly across the state. It will also serve as a national model for states that adopt PACE financing so they can provide homeowners with an effective financing option to make their properties more efficient, comfortable and secure,” said DeVries.

Top Photo credit: Senator Nancy Skinner
Courtesy Her Homepage

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