John Oliver’s latest commentary targets Missouri’s PACE program

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Missouri’s Property Assessed Clean Energy or PACE programs was the focus of a commentary by John Oliver on Last Week Tonight. The program is supposed to help low income homeowners make their properties energy efficient.

Missouri put the PACE program into place in 2010. The city of St. Louis has a seperate PACE program to help commercial and residential property owners pay for improvements.

Oliver states that contractors doing the renovations make up a large portion of sales of solar panels, windows, roofs, insulation, and more. The improvements in energy efficiency are supposed to pay for themselves. But, there is no requirement for an assessment of the energy savings from the improvements. Plus, if the improvements are expensive, then they can be hard to pay back.

The money for the upgrades comes from a lien on the home. It is gradually paid back through property taxes. That could be an issue if the homeowner can’t pay them. They could lose their home.

St. Louis County Assessor Jake Zimmerman appeared in Oliver’s commentary:

“I think that the bottom line is that there is no circumstance that the County, in my opinion, can offer the power to take your house in return for getting you money to buy a new air conditioner, solar panel, or whatever it may be,” said Zimmerman.

“Exactly, nobody in this country should be losing their home because of an air conditioner, ” said John Oliver.

Oliver goes on to say that PACE programs across the country may be a liability as foreclosure moratoriums are set to expire after the pandemic. They could lead to even more evictions.

Ygrene, a company that helps with PACE financing, posted an article called “PACE isn’t broken — don’t fix it” to their Twitter feed today:

Zimmerman tweeted this message after Oliver’s broadcast, “Good on John Oliver for shining a light on this dangerous and abusive industry. Let’s end residential PACE in St Louis County before anyone loses their home.”

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