Assembly panel scales back lead pipe replacement program

MADISON — Legislators have scaled back a bill that would create grants and loans to help people replace lead water pipes.

The bill would allow water utilities to provide grants or loans to people subject to local government and state regulators approval. The utilities would be allowed to raises rates within that municipality to fund the program. The proposal also would allow municipalities to provide loans for pipe replacement.

The Assembly’s energy committee amended the bill Tuesday to cap grants at 50 percent of the replacement cost and make loans unforgivable.

The panel passed the bill 12-3 despite Republicans’ concerns that the program expands government.

The Senate’s energy committee approved the bill in March. But the Assembly panel’s amendment created two separate bills that the two houses will have to reconcile.