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HOA member seeks advice after a recent discovery made in organization's governing documents: 'Not very clear'

"The declarant won't allow it."

"The declarant won't allow it."

Photo Credit: iStock

Solar power is lighting up homeowners associations and sparking debate among some residents.

One Redditor took to r/HOA to describe their 204-unit Massachusetts condo community and its governing board's plans to "go solar."

The post details two projects in the works: installing electric vehicle charging stations and leasing roof space on all buildings to a solar company that will sell energy to the grid and share profits with the HOA.

The original poster questions whether the projects serve all homeowners equally, as most residents drive gas-powered cars.

"As [the EV charging stations] are used, more electricity will be billed on higher slabs of usage and everybody will be paying a higher rate than they would have for their individual units, effectively subsidizing the EV owners," the Redditor wrote. "The governing docs are not very clear."

The share of solar energy is rising across the United States as prices fall, and this HOA's arrangement of leasing roof space to an outside company avoids some red tape. Savings for both the HOA budget and residents' electricity bills make for an appealing incentive.

As for EV charging stations, while meshed energy billing solves part of the fairness equation, it does increase electricity costs marginally for all. HOAs interested in carbon-cutting tech will need to weigh options carefully to avoid pushback.

In the past few years, HOAs nationwide have come under scrutiny for obstructing residents' efforts to embrace cost-effective and environmentally friendly home improvements, such as installing rooftop solar panels or cultivating native plant lawns.

Stalling such progress impedes the widespread adoption of green technologies and sustainable landscaping, hindering the effort to combat rising global temperatures.

Overall, this HOA is ahead of the curve in exploring solar projects, setting an example for more restrictive HOAs while working through valid growing pains. Their initiative sparks inspiration for ways HOAs can lean into renewable solutions with financial and environmental payoffs. 

Judging by commenters' envy and intrigue, the future looks bright for HOAs ready to tap into solar savings.

"I'm actually jealous. Our community has tried to get solar for years … but the declarant won't allow it," one commenter wrote.

Reactions were mixed on whether the solar plans were commonplace or still ahead of the curve. "Common, no, but it should be," another commenter replied.

If you're in a more restrictive HOA, all is not lost, as there are ways to work with them to change established rules, particularly as they pertain to eco-friendly updates like these.

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