How local homeowners can finance and move ahead on energy-saving projects for their homes, using Efficiency Maine’s new low-interest loan program, will be the focus of a community forum at Belfast City Hall on Thursday, June 16, from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

The event is hosted by the City of Belfast Energy and Climate Committee, Efficiency Maine, and Maine Partners for Cool Communities and its signature Green Sneakers Project. The event in the City Council Chambers at 131 Church St. is open to the public. Homeowners and community leaders are encouraged to attend.

Forum presenters include Efficiency Maine residential program specialist Dana Fischer, who will provide an overview of the Property Assessed Clean Energy loan program, already adopted by more than 50 communities including Belfast, Unity, Rockland, North Haven and Vinalhaven. Homeowners in those communities, who meet the PACE eligibility requirements, are able to access loans for approved energy upgrade projects.

Also on the program will be local certified home energy contractors Paul Shepherd, of Penobscot Home Performance and Biff Atlass, of GreenStar Home Performance, who will discuss why homeowners should consider an energy audit and performance improvements, how PACE can finance those home improvements, and what to expect with an energy audit and upgrade.

Chuck Piper, co-owner of Sundog Solar Store in Searsport, will briefly describe how the PACE loans can be used for renewable energy projects as well.

Representatives from Belfast’s City Council and Energy and Climate Committee, and nearby PACE communities, will share how other communities can adopt and promote Maine’s PACE program.

“Belfast has many older homes that are wonderful to look at, but difficult and expensive to keep warm in the winter,” said Michael McDonald, chairman of the Belfast Energy and Climate Committee, in a press release. “In July of 2010, Belfast was one of the first communities in Maine to pass a local law that makes these low cost PACE loans available for residents to upgrade their homes. The PACE loan process also ensures that upgrades are carefully planned and executed to effectively cut heating costs and to make homes more comfortable. There is really no downside to this program.”

Maine’s PACE program is a revolving loan program seeded by a $30 million grant to Efficiency Maine from the US Department of Energy. In order for a homeowner to take advantage of a PACE loan up to $15,000, the town in which the homeowner lives must pass a PACE ordinance according to state law passed in April 2010. To date, Belfast, Unity, Rockland, North Haven, and Vinalhaven are the only local communities of the 59 Maine municipalities that have passed a PACE ordinance. Two homeowners in the midcoast area were the first in the state to be approved for PACE loans.

The three PACE forum sponsors are all working individually and collaboratively to bring smart energy solutions to Maine homeowners, businesses, and municipalities.

For more information about the program on June 16, which will be telecast live over Belfast Community Access Television Channel 7, contact Green Sneakers-Midcoast Project at 322-9147 or greensneakersmc@gmail.com or visit the MPCC website at coolmaine.org.