Efficiency Maine PACE ProgramA few months ago we talked about how Efficiency Maine was leading the nation by creating low-interest Maine PACE loans to help homeowners finance energy efficiency projects including weatherization, heating system improvements, and solar hot water projects.

Nearly seven months later the loans are finally becoming available! Efficiency Maine has hammered out the details and we’re able to share the specifics of the program with you.

Key points on PACE:

  • Minimum loan amount of $6,500, maximum loan $15,000
  • Energy improvements must result in an overall home energy savings of 25% to qualify
  • Energy savings is based on modeling performed by a qualified home energy auditor
  • You must live in a town that has passed a PACE ordinance
  • Fixed rate of 4.99%, 5, 10, or 15 year term, no pre-payment penalty or closing fees
  • Loan is a junior mortgage and assumable (i.e. if you sell your home the loan can go with it)

How Do I Apply?

An online PACE application is now live on Efficiency Maine’s website as well as a program FAQ.

Note that the first step is get an energy audit done. ReVision Energy can recommend an auditor in your area if you’re interested – just contact us.

So, What Does PACE Mean for Solar?

As we mentioned recently with the launch of Biddeford Saving’s loan for solar hot water projects, the beauty of financing a solar hot water system is that the cost of loan payments is generally less than the equivalent cost of fossil fuel energy. In other words, they save you money from day one!

And, while the $1,000 Efficiency Maine solar hot water rebate would go towards paying down the loan principal, you are still eligible for the 30% federal tax credit when you finance solar hot water with PACE.

The only tricky part is that solar hot water’s energy savings benefits must be accurately modeled by your home energy auditor to ensure the system meets the 25% energy savings criteria (possibly in tandem with other work) that makes it qualify for a PACE loan. Due to the way the modeling is structured, solar hot water systems will be much more likely to qualify for a PACE loan than photovoltaic (solar electric).

Below is a video from the MABEP Conference 2010, when Fortunat Mueller of ReVision explains how 1BTU of Solar can Save 4 BTUs of Oil:

Want to Pursue PACE?

As part of our commitment to a full-service renewable energy experience, ReVision’s staff has been following the development of PACE and are intimately familiar with the process of applying for the loans. We also have strong connections in the energy auditing industry to streamline the process for you.

If the idea of finally being able to finance energy efficiency makes you ready to finally go solar, contact us today and we’ll be happy to help you get started.

Which towns have passed PACE?

Efficiency Maine reports 41% of Maine’s population lives in a town with a PACE ordinance – almost half a million people!

UPDATE: Many, many towns have passed PACE, to the point where it’s cumbersome to list them here.  Check our complete list of towns in Maine that have passed PACE.

If your town still needs to pass an ordinance, we recommend contacting your town officials to urge them to adopt the ordinance – Efficiency Maine has several PACE model ordinances (PDF) available that make these loans available to town residents risk-free to the town.

More PACE Resources

The Maine PACE Loans program was seeded by an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. Efficiency Maine won the competitive grant to capitalize, administer and market the loans in a 2009 proposal. However, state law requires that all towns pass an ordinance enabling PACE before local homeowners become eligible for the loans.