Tax Programs to Finance Clean Energy Catch On

Over the years, as Rick Murphy helped expand his family’s auto business in Edina, Minn., outside Minneapolis, he wanted to install solar panels to cut the electricity bills, but the upfront cost was too high.

Then a developer, Blue Horizon Energy, made a proposal: Grandview Tire and Auto, using a new loan program, could borrow the $34,000 to install the system and pay it back over 10 years, but instead of making traditional loan payments, they would be made through his property taxes.

Now, with 117 panels on one of his five stores, he is saving $3,600 a year and bringing in new customers attracted to the company’s green image.

The program, he said, “made the concept of adding solar to our business reality.”

After years of fits, starts and unanticipated pitfalls, the long-term loan program — championed by the White House but stymied by federal housing officials — is gaining traction across the country, especially among businesses like Grandview. Known as Property Assessed Clean Energy financing, the approach allows owners to borrow the money for conservation or clean energy upgrades and pay it back over the long haul, often 20 years, through a property tax surcharge.

Read full text at The New York Times