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Loan program for home energy efficient projects could end in Collier County

Posted at 6:59 PM, Mar 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-26 06:41:31-04

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. — The Property Assessment for Clean Energy program - or PACE - is a tax-based financing program for homeowners to make their homes more energy-efficient, with improvements such as solar panels and air-conditioning units. But it could soon be eliminated in Collier County over consumer complaints that some contractors are abusing the program.

Lisa Lefkow, chief executive officer for Habiat For Humanity of Collier County, said that she's heard numerous complaints from Habitat homeowners. She said they've told her that some contractors were using high-pressure sales techniques, leaving more than two dozen low-income homeowners surprised by large bills they couldn't afford.

"They were sold things they didn't need, like split-system A/C units for a thousand square foot home," Lefkow said. "We had homeowners whose tax bills went from $670 a year, to $6,200 a year."

Those complaints have gotten the attention of county leaders. Tuesday, the Collier County Board of Commissioners are expected to vote on whether or not to eliminate the PACE program in the county.

But Guy McClurkan, executive director of the non-profit group Clean PACE, thinks that would be a mistake.

"(PACE) is a great option for homeowners to finance these home improvements," McClurkan said. "We believe it's an important tool to be able to access financing for important home safety and energy improvements."

"It is a regulated organization," he added. "It faces scrutiny from many different levels."

If commissioners vote to drop the PACE program Tuesday, it would likely only affect homeowners, and be replaced by a program which buinesses could still use.