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Homeowners subjected to battle with neighborhood over their barely noticeable solar panels: 'I don't think it's fair'

"It's not detracting from the look and appeal. You can barely notice it from the street."

WOWT, Barely-noticeable solar

Photo Credit: iStock

Another Nebraska homeowner has been blindsided by a demand to remove their solar panels, local NBC affiliate WOWT reported.

Many HOAs across the country ban solar panels out of fear that they'll look unattractive and bring property values down. The argument falls apart when you realize that solar panels actually add value and reduce the owner's bills — and it's even worse in cases where the panels aren't damaging the home's appearance to start with.

Nebraska residents John and Kelly Bowling claimed that was the case with the panels installed on their new home.

"The reason I don't think it's fair, it's not that much of an eyesore," John told WOWT. "It's not detracting from the look and appeal. You can barely notice it from the street."

Despite being almost unnoticeable, the solar panels were expected to save the Bowlings $80 per month on their electric bills. That would be almost $1,000 of free energy each year, and it would all be generated without creating any heat-trapping air pollution like oil or coal would. It also wouldn't rely on the surrounding electric grid, so the Bowlings could potentially have power even during an outage.

In spite of those benefits, the Bowlings received a notice earlier this year that they needed to remove the panels by June 1. Another neighbor with solar panels got the same message.

If the families lived in an HOA, these sorts of restrictions might have been expected. But according to WOWT, there is no HOA. The party creating these rules is the developer of the subdivision, which is ironically named Liberty. Worse, both households claimed they weren't notified that they couldn't install solar panels when they purchased the homes.

A bill currently being debated in Nebraska's state legislature would protect homeowners like the Bowlings and their neighbors. Nebraska State Sen. George Dungan introduced Legislative Bill 49, which prevents HOAs from restricting solar access. However, the legislature hasn't voted on the bill yet.

"From the analysis I've done, solar panels increase property values on a regular basis, so I don't see any good reason to prohibit solar panels," Dungan said of the proposal.

Another Liberty resident, Debbie Roberts, agreed. "I think that's a very earth-while thing to do, and if I had the money, I'd also buy an electric car, and I'd probably buy panels myself," she told WOWT.

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