Rosalind Carr isn’t the first homeowner to disagree with her HOA about solar panels. The panels provide free energy for owners and save money, as well as reduce air pollution by cutting down on the need for electricity generated from oil and coal.
However, HOAs are usually more concerned with the appearance of the panels and often ask for them to be placed out of sight on the back of the house, if they’re allowed at all. Homeowners who break the rules risk fines, and in some cases, the removal of their solar panels by the HOA.
That’s what Carr told the Nebraska Examiner she was facing with her HOA. The retiree wanted to install solar panels “to do something good” after hearing the Pope’s message about the environment earlier this year.
Carr said she intended to get the association’s permission for the installation, which is usually allowed on the back of the house. However, Carr’s contractor asked to move up the installation date on very short notice.
Because Carr didn’t go through the proper process, the Nebraska Examiner reports that she was asked to remove the panels at a cost of $3,500. The HOA’s lawyer rejected a proposal for Carr to simply move them.
According to the Nebraska Examiner, the state is considering a law that would allow Carr and others like her to install solar panels. Legislative Bill 49 would not only prevent HOAs from blocking solar installation; it would also allow municipalities to issue a “solar access permit” to grant the holder the right to sunlight.
Supporters of the bill say it protects personal property rights, the Nebraska Examiner says. “It’s a small change for a big gain,” said Sen. George Dungan, who created the bill.
However, opponents argue that a “right to sunlight” could mean cutting down trees, which are vital for providing clean air.
It will be a while before the Nebraska legislature reaches a decision on Legislative Bill 49, the Nebraska Examiner reports. Until then, Carr said she would take her solar panels down and donate them to Habitat for Humanity. However, if the bill passes, she said, “I will tell you, I may just put them up again.”
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