State-supported ‘clean energy’ loans put borrowers at risk of losing their homes | Politics

April 24, 2021 By identybeauty 0

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The commission has never ruled specifically on MCED’s relationship with Pickerill and Harris’ company, and the pair said they were unaware of the commission’s ruling. They said their dual roles as both directors of the district and owners of its primary contractor were completely appropriate and said it wasn’t necessary to put the work out for bid.

“That’s how it works,” Pickerill said. “If you’re on the board of an organization, and you have a group you hire that’s been running it up to your satisfaction, are you really going to put it out for bid?”

Five years after lenders began making residential PACE loans in Missouri, neither of the legislative sponsors is still in office. House sponsor Jason Holsman, a Democrat now on the state’s Public Service Commission, declined to comment. The Senate sponsor, Joan Bray, a Democrat, said she didn’t anticipate the problems that have emerged. She said she initially hoped PACE loans would help borrowers make affordable energy-saving home improvements, and that regulators would provide meaningful oversight of the program.

“I didn’t envision this as being an opportunity for a private business to charge interest rates that would put people in a financial bind,” Bray, who is retired, said in an interview.

Lack of options

For many borrowers saddled with PACE debts they couldn’t afford, the program seemed to offer a lifeline in an emergency. When the temperature dropped to near zero in the final days of 2017, and her furnace struggled to heat her 1,100-square-foot home in the St. Louis neighborhood of Walnut Park East, Joyce Piffins had few options. She called a contractor, who told her she could finance a new heating and cooling system through a bank loan if she had good credit. If not, the contractor said, she could use the city’s PACE provider, Ygrene. A home health aide earning $11.50 per hour, Piffins had poor credit and past bankruptcies. She went with PACE.

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