Second time around might prove the charm for PACE Ordinance

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

A program that offers low-interest energy efficiency loans to homeowners, even to those with bad credit, got swept up in the prevailing “no” sentiment in Bridgton last year that rejected a ban on big box stores and fast food restaurants. It was rejected, but this June the Property Assessed Clean Energy Ordinance will be back before voters again.

“It’s a win-win situation for us” to pass the PACE ordinance this time around, said Town Manager Mitch Berkowitz, during an April 10 public hearing.

That’s because the town is only acting as an intermediary for the program, which is financed by funds awarded to the Efficiency Maine Trust under the Federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program.

Under the program, residents will be able to apply for loans at a rate of 4.9% to finance energy-efficient improvements of residential, commercial or industrial property. It also provides money for installation of any number of renewable energy systems, such as wood pellet stoves, solar, biomass, geothermal or wind systems — even a landfill gas-to-energy system. Such systems must meet or exceed federal and state energy efficiency standards.

In return, the town agrees, under the ordinance, to act as the agent in dispersing the loans and assuming responsibility for their repayment, by keeping payment records and recording any liens that result from nonpayment.

The program will not only help homeowners by being open also to businesses, it may well entice new business development by making renovation projects and new construction more affordable. Another bonus, according to Berkowitz, is that the program dovetails nicely with the town’s existing building ordinances.

“It’s a great opportunity for the public,” Berkowitz said, whether they simply want to better insulate their house or replace costly heating systems that are oil- or propane-dependent, in favor of a renewable energy system that uses a less expensive type of fuel.

Heather Rorer was the only audience member who spoke during the public hearing. “I’m glad to see this come up again. The town really has no liability…you can save as much as 40% on your heating bill,” she said.

“There’s only positives to be said about it,” Rorer added.

Selectmen Doug Taft asked about the requirement in the ordinance making the town responsible for education and outreach about the program. Chairman Art Triglione said the town can post flyers and answer questions about the application loan process, and enlist help in spreading the word in The Bridgton News. More information is also available by visiting www.efficiencymaine.com

Please follow and like us: