A financing program that’s let more than 180,000 homeowners pay for solar panels and clean-energy appliances through their local tax bills is poised to survive an effort by Republicans to add regulations that would have effectively shut it down.
The program, known as Property Assessed Clean Energy, had faced a challenge from U.S. senators led by Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton, who dubbed it a “scam” that often led unsuspecting buyers into financial ruin. In April, he proposed legislation that would regulate it like mortgages, a change that proponents said would have effectively shut it down.
Now, however, after behind-the-scenes negotiations among Senate staffers, consumer groups, mortgage lenders and PACE proponents, the GOP lawmakers reached a compromise that may, instead, rescue it. Cotton supports that compromise, which was part of a larger banking overhaul bill passed overwhelmingly this month by the Senate Banking Committee.
The legislation is a rare win for solar and energy efficiency proponents under President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress. While Trump has axed the Clean Power Plan, which would have helped renewable-energy, and stalled energy-efficiency standards, this is an example of the smaller, targeted programs that continue to thrive despite the overall hostility from Washington.