Orange contractor accused of misleading Los Angeles and San Bernardino County owners – Orange County Register
A new state consumer protection agency has banned a contractor in the City of Orange from marketing energy loans, claiming he falsely peddled his services to homeowners in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties in the part of a government-funded “no-cost” program, the agency said on Tuesday (March 30th).
John Jacob Berry of Orange-based Community Solar Inc. signed a consent order with the state’s Department of Financial Protection and Innovation agreeing to stop work on clean energy programs valued by property, or PACE. The ordinance also applies to companies operating under the names of Premier Community Construction, PACE Consulting Agency Inc., The PACE Program of California and PACE Marketing & Communications.
PACE provides financing to homeowners for energy upgrades to their homes, such as installing solar panels, with loan payments added to homeowners’ property taxes. The program has been plagued by allegations of contractor fraud and abuse.
The new Financial Protection Department was created under California’s Consumer Financial Protection Act, which came into effect this year. The new agency replaces and expands the powers of the Department of Business Oversight.
The state agency ordered Berry and its businesses to stop offering PACE funding to consumers and to stop using “PACE” in its business names, websites, marketing materials or communications.
The agency said Berry and his companies deceived the owners into believing that California’s PACE program was a state government agency. The letters sent to the owners used an address in the Capitol Mall in Sacramento that turned out to be the address of a virtual office seller, according to the consent order.
Even after losing their authorization to market PACE loans last year, Berry companies continued to use the PACE name in their businesses and on their websites, the state agency said.
Berry could not be reached for comment.