NEW PORT RICHEY — Two providers will be the only firms authorized to do business in Pasco County for the Property Assessed Clean Energy Program.

PACE is a government sponsored program that is used in Florida to finance energy-efficiency home improvements and renewable energy and wind resistance improvements.

The Pasco County Tax Collector’s Office and the Pasco County Property Appraiser’s Office announced the new authorization program July 3 to aid residents who otherwise might be targeted by scam artists.

The two approved providers are Renew Financial and Florida Resiliency and Energy District. Renew Financial, based in Oakland, California, and FRED, which was created through an interlocal agreement between the cities of Fernandina Beach and Lake Clarke Shores, are the only two approved to do business in Pasco County because they are the only two that agreed to abide by stringent customer protections that Tax Collector Mike Fasano and Property Appraiser Gary Joiner drafted.

For many people, a loan through the PACE Program may be the only funding option they have for needed home improvements, according to Assistant Tax Collector Greg Giordano.

The industry, however, has been riddled with shady businesses that have dealt unfairly and even fraudulently with customers. News accounts throughout the state document people left owing huge sums of money that they never agreed to pay nor asked for.

The newly created consumer protections became part of PACE contracts in Pasco on July 3. All other companies are effectively banned from doing business in Pasco County. Giordano said.

“If a company is not willing to sign a simple statement that it will provide certain consumer protections,” states Tax Collector Mike Fasano, “then there is no place for them in Pasco County.”

The tax collector and property appraiser staffs worked closely with consumer advocates and others familiar with the abuses occurring in this industry, Fasano said.

The program, Fasano said, will “give assurances to customers that they … are working with a reputable firm.”

Ensuring customers are protected and receive the tax benefits they are entitled to are top priorities of his office, said Joiner, the property appraiser. “The two PACE providers (are) ensuring that our customers are kept safe from unscrupulous vendors.”