February 28, 2020
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Council vote enables Millinocket residents to apply for home energy improvement loans

MILLINOCKET, Maine — Residents are eligible for low-interest loans aimed at improving the energy efficiency of their homes thanks to a Town Council vote earlier this month, officials said Friday.

The council voted 6-0 on Dec. 11 to pass an ordinance effectively allowing the town to participate in the Maine Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, program administered through Efficiency Maine. Councilor Jimmy Busque was absent due to work, Chairman Richard Angotti Jr. said.

Councilors were happy to get behind the program, Angotti and Councilor Richard Theriault said.

“With some of the older homes in Millinocket, there is always room for energy improvements,” Theriault said Friday. “Heating is a big piece of our energy bill. If these folks can save some money on heating their homes, I think it’s great.”

An independent administrator for energy efficiency programs in Maine governed by a stakeholder Board of Trustees with oversight from the Maine Public Utilities Commission, Efficiency Maine’s mission is to lower the cost and environmental impacts of energy in Maine by promoting energy efficiency and alternative energy systems, according to its website, efficiencymaine.com.

Maine lawmakers signed PACE legislation into law in April 2010, authorizing municipalities to establish the loan program. The legislation authorizes municipalities to enter into PACE agreements with property owners, provide financing, and collect PACE assessments to repay the loans. Only homes within towns that have PACE ordinances are eligible, officials have said.

The state’s program is funded through a $20.4 million grant created within the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, said Michael Stoddard, Efficiency Maine’s executive director.

PACE loans range from $6,500 to $15,000 and offer a repayment period of five, 10, or 15 years at a fixed interest rate of 4.99 percent APR, and feature no processing fees, according to the website. To qualify, homeowners must have debt-to-income ratios of no more than 45 percent, loan-to-value ratios of less than 100 percent, current property tax and sewer payments, and no outstanding liens, reverse mortgages or mortgage defaults, foreclosures or delinquencies.

The program has been very successful, Stoddard said.

“Since we launched that revolving loan fund, we have expanded the types of loans that homeowners can take. The PACE loans are secured on the house, and the cool thing about that is they can pass that loan to anyone they [homeowners] sell the home to, or they can pay it off early,” Stoddard said.

The state’s first such loan was disbursed in 2011 to a Rockland couple that owned a home built in the 1930s. The program has grown since then, Stoddard said.

“Of all our types of home loans, we have done more than 600 and put out more than $10 million and so far have had zero defaults on the loans,” Stoddard added.

A list of all the state municipalities that have passed ordinances was not available. Angotti said that East Millinocket and Medway are among the participating towns. Anyone interested in securing a loan can contact their municipality or call Efficiency Maine at 866-376-2463 to determine if they are eligible.

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