Complicating What Should be an Easy Decision

Homeowners’ Associations and Solar

Long Island Homeowners have demonstrated that they are open to renewable energy and the evidence is clear with new solar PV systems being installed daily.
The only party that doesn’t appear to be opening their arms and minds to the many benefits of this green energy are community homeowner’s associations.
Homeowner’s Associations (HOAs) often have a governing set of rules that the homeowners’ who live in the community must follow, such as maintaining landscaping, selecting approved color schemes when replacing siding and roofing, and decoration guidelines around the holidays. With the popularization of solar energy, HOAs have recently expressed that solar panels on roofs destroy the unified look of these communities and therefore prohibit installation.
Many states across the country, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin, have “solar access” and “solar rights” laws in place that have provisions that state these associations can’t prohibit you from installing solar on your home. Unfortunately, New York is not yet one of these states.
You would think that New York, a state that offers both rebates and tax incentives for installing solar, would make it easier for all homeowners to break their dependence from fossil fuels.
One of Four Seasons Roofing Inc’s loyal customers, whose roof we had installed, called us for a solar estimate. After meeting with our estimator Oscar, and going over his proposal, he was more than excited to start saving on his electric bill and do his part to reduce his carbon footprint. Despite all the benefits, and the fact that the positioning of his custom solar system made it impossible for them to be seen from the road, his Homeowner’s Association refused to allow them to be installed. They gave no reason other than they didn’t like the look of them. On our end, we even offered to meet with the board to have the opportunity to present the proposal and make reasonable adjusts that would please them aesthetically, but not compromise the systems efficiency. The HOA stated that would not be necessary, as they would not approve the installation regardless of the situation.
So what is a homeowner to do? You can always try discussing some compromises with your own Homeowner’s Association and see if they can be reasoned with. You can also write to your local Senator and ask them to support The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454), a bill for a federal law that would make it illegal to prohibit solar panels.
On a state level, Assemblywoman Sandy Galef is currently sponsoring Bill A.8296 that states “No board managers shall ban in the by-laws, any solar panel arrays, the installation of rooftop solar panels or the clearing and trimming of vegetation on unit owners’ properties that obscure such solar panel arrays or rooftop solar panels; provided however that the board of managers shall be consulted regarding the aesthetics of such solar panel arrays and rooftop solar panels”.
Instead of complicating the process of producing clean, renewable energy that lessens our dependence of foreign energy sources, Homeowner’s Associations should get on board and realize that solar energy can, in fact, raise property values and the quality of life of their communities.