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PACE reforms cross legislative finish line

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The General Assembly approved changes to Missouri’s Property Assessment Clean Energy (PACE) Act program Wednesday morning. 

HB 697 from Rep. Bruce DeGroot would require municipalities taking action with a clean energy development board to notify the Division of Finance of the change, and the division would conduct examinations of a board every two years. The Clean Energy Development Board would be required to work with property owners by disclosing project information, keeping them up-to-date on developments, and informing them in writing that delinquent assessments would be a lien on their property. 

The House gave its final approval 137-12. DeGroot said the bill would add protections for consumers in the program and increase transparency for PACE. 

“This bill is a good start, but this program has issues — they’re either going to clean up their act or they won’t,” he said. “I’m excited about the program and I’m looking forward to watching because I’m excited to see what they’re going to accomplish and I know they’re going to succeed.”

DeGroot thanked both chambers for their “PACE-ience” in progressing the bill. The Senate removed provisions requiring banks to give consent for loans and another mandating insurance for PACE financing unless available before passing it back, giving its approval after several hours of debate and compromise. 

Other provisions included in the bill would prohibit companies contracting with the PACE program from advertising their contracts and would require landowners to give confirmation that at least one property owner received a disclosure form as part of the program. 

Several PACE groups testified in favor of the legislation in committee as did Division of Finance Commissioner Rob Barrett. 

Another bill initially paired with HB 697 would require an appraisal for PACE-related improvements and add that the sum of liens and mortgages on the property added to the proposed amount of financing from the Clean Energy Development Board cannot exceed 90 percent of the appraised property value plus the value added by the project; its language was included in the final substitute of DeGroot’s bill.