Do HOAs impede green progress? Part II

Colorado state law requires HOAs to allow residents to install solar systems on their roof — including this perfect roof for solar, it’s south-facing (and it’s ours), in Aurora, Colo.

editors-blog-entry3A quick follow-up to my original post on HOAs (homeowner’s associations) and solar. Pressure is clearly mounting on HOAs which try to prevent homeowners from going solar, including, for example, the Flower Mound HOA (Texas), which recently sued a homeowner for installing solar panels on his home (see this story for more on this lawsuit).

In fact, I just discovered a web site — which may in fact be produced by the Flower Mound homeowner himself. It’s a fascinating site which makes a good case for solar being the future, and HOAs who try to prevent residents from installing solar as being stuck in the past. It’s even got pictures of the “offending” solar installation in the Flower Mound HOA, which actually is very sleek and pretty.

Resources for
HOA residents who want to solar


* Solar Energy Industries Association page on Restrictive Covenants/HOA Rules

* Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency: Incentives & Policies for Solar

* Astralux Power Systems Explanation of the Colorado Solar Energy Access Law

* Arizona Solar Energy Convenant Restrictions

* California Solar Rights Act

* Colorado HOAs warm to solar gear, energy saving residents (The Denver Post, June 2009)

* Flower Mound (Texas) HOA Tries to Ban Solar Power (March 2010)

* Solar panel users sparking conflict among neighbors (December 2009)

*Homeowner sues HOA over solar panels (October 2008)

* Closing in on HOA Solar-Installation Restrictions (December 2009)

I might have been too hard on HOAs in my original post. But while I believe HOAs ought to have some say in what a solar system looks like (as long as what they ask for doesn’t substantially increase costs for a homeowner), I firmly believe that HOAs should not have the right to prevent homeowners from going solar.

Solar increases, rather than decreases, property values.

I suppose you could say that in some senses solar does decrease the value of those homes directly neighboring a home with solar panels because, all other factors equal, the home with solar panels is going to be a more attractive buy than those without them.

Indeed, home builders are increasingly recognizing — in contrast to HOAs like Flower Mound — that most people want homes that are green and cost-efficient, and solar is part of the green/efficiency package. So, for instance, as notes in a recent web story, in California, KB Home and China’s BYD Co. are teaming up to build new homes with solar and battery packs to store the energy.

The momentum is so clearly against HOAs on the question of banning solar that this might explain some of the apparent desparation on the part of the Flower Mound HOA in Texas.

But just because the momentum is on homeowners’ side — whether they’re motivated by green considerations, money considerations, or both — doesn’t mean the battle is over.

If you’re a homeowner in an HOA who would like to go solar, I would suggest doing your research in terms of the legal lay of the land in your state. (I’m not sure if there even is the equivalent of homeowner’s associatons outside of the U.S. If there is, and you know something about these entities and what they do to prevent or perhaps help property owners put up solar, I would love to hear from you.)

In the interest of helping other homeowners living in HOAs who want to go solar, I’ve created a short list of useful resources (in the box to the upper right). If you know of additional resources, please let me know and I will add them to the list.

Homeowners who want to go solar in an HOA should be armed with as much information — and internal and external support — as they can get!

By the way, if you have experienced going solar in an HOA, we would love to hear your story, and we’d be happy to publish it here on SolarChargedDriving.Com, so that others might benefit from your experience and wisdom.

Finally, I just re-checked my own HOA’s covenenants and there is no language anywhere that specifically addresses solar systems.

I’ll be calling my HOA on Monday to ask them what the specific procedure is for filing a home-improvement application to install our 5.5 kW system. As I noted in my first post on HOAs and solar, two other homes in our HOA have solar-thermal solar systems which appear to have been installed in the 1980s. They are considerably smaller than the size of the system we’re going to install, but, frankly, they’re not anywhere near as pretty as ours will be.

Stay tuned šŸ˜‰

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