Sixteen 380-watt Silfab solar panels have been sitting in my basement for 8 weeks collecting dust and not producing solar electricity while I wait and wait and wait for HOA approval.

It’s still too difficult to go solar in US, especially for condo owners

16 solar panels sitting in my basement collecting dust and not producing solar electricity while I wait — after nearly 18 months of already working and waiting on this — for “layered” HOA approval for permission to have them installed on my Littleton, Colo. condo roof. I am going to have to make at least two $170 monthly payments on a $17,000 loan I took out to pay for the 6 kW system BEFORE the system is even online 😖. [Photo by Christof Demont-Heinrich]
editor's blog logoIt is still much too difficult to go solar for millions of Americans, in particular those who live in condos — me included, although I have swum against the tide and have persevered anyway, I hope 🤞.

This during a time of clear global Climate Emergency, an emergency that destroyed 1,000 homes only about 30 miles as the crow flies from where I live here in Littleton, Colo. the Marshall Fire in December 2021 that hit Louisville and Superior, Colo. where the plains meet the Rocky Mountains in the Denver, Colo. area.

Yes, the Climate Emergency IS an emergency. Yet we are clearly NOT treating it as one, especially not when it comes to the lack of ease of going solar on a condo rooftop in the United States.

I currently have 16 380-watt solar panels sitting in my basement, where they have been sitting for nearly eight weeks and counting, collecting dust. I will soon have to make my first $170 monthly on the $17,000 loan I took out to help to pay for the $20,500 installation of a 6 kW solar system on my condo roof here in Littleton, Colo. — before the panels even go on the roof.

[After the Federal Solar Tax Credit my total out-of-pocket costs will be about $15,000]

Solar panels are installed on our garage roof here in Highline Crossing Cohousing in July 2020. [Photo by Christof Demont-Heinrich]
Yes, after working very hard and persistently for nearly 18 months to set myself up to get solar on my condo/townhome roof, and after following all of the required steps and votes, etc. I still find myself  in a position where I have to pay loan money on solar panels that are are not yet up on my roof here at Highline Crossing Cohousing Community in Littleton, Colo.

How can this be?

Because of endless long-running and ongoing red-tape, in this case, HOA red tape, that has required nearly 18 months of work and, unbelievably to me, is still ongoing. This is due in part to a “nested” HOA situation, which means I have not ONE, but TWO HOAs through which/by which I must run my solar installation.

I have had to fight for a long time and put in a ton of effort to even get to this point where, hopefully, eventually, HOA No. 2, nested above HOA No. 1 (HOA No. 1 has already approved the installation), will finally approve my solar installation.

I, mean, this same HOA No. 2 approved in June 2020 the installation of a 10.3 kW and a 9.3 kW solar system on our Highline Crossing Cohousing community center and our shared garages. I was the major force in getting those installations to happen, something that took almost two years as well, though I could not have done it without the help of several neighbors who helped me in a huge way.

I am a die-hard greenie, a lifelong environmentalist. I don’t give up easily and I fight hard. But if I have to fight so hard to get solar up on my condo rooftop here in Littleton, Colo., that is not good news for rooftop and condo-owner solar in the US.

Because if even the strongest solar advocates have to fight, fight, fight to get solar up, people who are not as strong in their advocacy — they’re never going to be able to get solar up on their condo rooftop. Much of this due to HOA inertia on what is, again, an C-L-I-M-A-T-E E-M-E-R-G-E-N-C-Y. Yes. It. Is.

If we don’t go to renewables ASAP in the US, and around the world, an already very out of control and dangerous and, frankly, bad, situation, is going to get much worse. We need to stop that from happening — now, not tomorrow, not 10 or 20 or 30 years from now, but now.

One of the shared garage blocks with solar panels at Highline Crossing Cohousing Community. [Photo by Christof Demont-Heinrich]
It should be easy and also more affordable to go solar on every rooftop in the US, including, condo rooftops in the US, rooftops like mine, here in Highline Crossing Cohousing in Littleton, Colo. But it’s not. It’s still a fight, a slog. I am still slogging after 18 months and about to make a payment on a loan used to purchase a 6 kW system that isn’t even up yet.

There are not enough people like me who will fight and slog the way that I have.

The problem isn’t that there are not enough people like me, though: The problem is the system. The system needs to be changed to ensure that going solar is an easy, smooth, clear process and that it is also more affordable than it is — honestly, I probably won’t break even on my 6 kW system until 10 to 12 years from now, at best.

That’s it. Well, no, not quite: I still cannot believe that I am going to make payment on loan for a solar system that isn’t even up yet because of HOA — and American political and social inertia — at a time when neighborhoods just a few miles up the road from me are literally burning to the ground as a result of a Global Climate Emergency!

Truly unbelievable!

The aftermath of the Marshall Fire in Louisville and Superior, Colo. in Dec. 2021. Both towns are on the plains in suburban Denver, not in the woods or mountains. More than 1,000 homes were destroyed in the fire. [Wikimedia Commons Photo]