State Laws Force Associations To Get Onboard With Renewables

States across the country are passing legislation that forbids community associations from banning residential solar panels and charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs) in most circumstances. What do so-called solar access and right-to-charge laws mean for your clients? We talked to some experts in states that have such laws in place to find out.

When it comes to the installation of solar panels in community associations, the focus generally is on how it will affect a community’s architectural integrity, says Brendan Bunn, a partner practicing community association law with the Fairfax, Va., law firm Chadwick, Washington, Moriarty, Elmore & Bunn, P.C.

When Virginia was crafting its solar access law, Bunn says, “associations wanted to make sure there was a way to preserve architectural appearance by allowing regulation of the placement and manner of installations.”

The law that was enacted in 2020 permits associations to impose “reasonable restrictions” on the size, place, and manner of placement of solar panels. A subsequent law clarified the definition of “reasonable.”

“If a restriction drives up the owner’s cost by more than 5 percent, it’s deemed to be unreasonable,” Bunn says. “Also, if it reduces the panel’s efficiency by more than 10 percent, that’s unreasonable.”

The Virginia law includes a carveout for associations that have solar panel prohibitions in their recorded declaration. “There was a rush to see if you had a restriction in the declaration,” Bunn says, “but very few clients went through the amendment process to prohibit solar panels.

“Bans were more common in older communities because the panels were bigger and less attractive in the past. Once clients learned there was a way to regulate, I think they relaxed a little bit. Most have just adopted some sort of policy resolution governing the placement of the devices.”

Read the full story now and learn more: States Limit Associations’ Ability to Restrict Renewable Energy

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Matt Humphrey

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