Senate Bill 4, also called the Connecticut Clean Air Act, is a 35-page document that includes a surprising range of provisions. One added toward the end of the bill prohibits HOAs and similar communities from adopting “any rules that would have the effect of prohibiting any unit owner from installing a solar power generating system on the roof of such owner’s unit, provided such roof is not shared with any other unit owner.”
“This is one of the best-kept secrets from the past legislative session,” said Mark Scully, president of People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE), according to Energy News Network.
There are exceptions for condo associations and shared buildings, and the HOA is still allowed to set requirements for the location and size of any solar setup, the Energy News Network clarifies. Ultimately, this may affect fewer than 1,000 households, but this is a big step forward for Connecticut, which was previously the only state in New England that didn’t have such legislation.
The change is good news for Kenneth McKinney, a Connecticut homeowner. The Energy News Network says he chose his home partly for its south-facing roof, perfect for generating solar energy with a $30,000 system he picked out.
“I figured out it would be a seven-and-a-half-year payback,” McKinney told the Energy News Network.
Indeed, most homeowners who install solar panels can recover the cost of the system in a few years thanks to reduced power bills — then keep saving long afterward. Plus, the solar panels raise the value of the home, and generating electricity without producing air pollution helps slow the rising temperature of the planet.
But HOAs sometimes stand in the way of those benefits, as one did in McKinney’s case. After McKinney applied to install solar panels, Copper Brook Circle board president Robert Picard emailed him a denial, saying, “any decision relative to solar panels should not be rushed into and not considered until a specific and well thought out plan for Copper Brook is developed.” Picard added that the policy “will be decided by a vote of the homeowners unless mandated by law.”
Now that the law is in place, McKinney is waiting for the news to sink in before seeking a new ruling, the Energy News Network reports.
Meanwhile, homeowners without a clear legal case can still work to change their HOA rules.
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