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Instead of Energy Audits, Homeowners Threatened With Property Liens

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By Kavitha Cardoza

More than 100 homeowners in D.C. who signed up for free energy audits received letters instead saying liens were being placed on their properties.

One of the companies conducting the energy audits, Patuxent Environmental Group Energy Solutions, says the city never paid it for its work and it was filing liens against the homes of those who signed up for the program to try to recover costs.

D.C. Council member Mary Cheh says she received several calls from homeowners.

"A lot of people were frightened and anxious and others were plain mad," says Cheh.

Cheh says the city's Department of the Environment which oversees the program insists Patuxent was not authorized to conduct the audits. And she says that while company has backed down from threatening liens, she's concerned people might hesitate to sign up for what, she says, otherwise is a good idea.

"We want this program not to have any 'taint' connected with it. Because its a good program. The design is to get people to be aware of what energy conservation efforts they could take in their homes and that's where we want to be," she says.

Cheh will hold hearings in September to investigate why this happened.

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