Imagine a crescent-shaped ridge that runs alongside a narrow canal in a small Arizona town known as the Winter Vegetable Capital of the World. With spectacular, long views of the rugged mountains, this picturesque ribbon of earth was long overdue for development. When the trucks and earth-movers began pushing the rust colored dirt around, it sparked much discussion among residents.
“What size lots would be available?”
“No less than three or four bedrooms, please.”
“A pool - duh.”
“Three-car garage to house my dune buggy and jacked golf cart with neon undercarriage lights!”
Oh, and solar panels. Surely, since it's the 21st century and the homes would be drenched in sunshine 364 days of the year, there would be an opportunity to install solar panels.
The (covenants, codes, and restrictions) CC&R’s didn’t specifically ban them but when I brought up (yes, this happened to me) during one of the purchase meetings, the real estate agents balked. They thought solar panels would detract from the uniformity of the homes in the neighborhood. Request denied! #facepalm.
Chalk it up to ignorance or the notion that all solar systems are unsightly and lower property values. They aren’t and they don't. The US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory reported that for each additional solar watt installed, a home's resale value increased $4. Fast forward to today and there’s a bunch of folks in Indiana who are facing the same roadblocks. It’s why Indiana Senator Aaron Freeman submitted SB 500 that "prohibits homeowners associations from adopting or enforcing certain rules, covenants, declarations of restrictions, and other governing documents concerning solar energy systems." There's a Change.org petition floating around in support of the bill, too. Oregon has already passed legislation preventing HOAs from banning solar panels. Other states, too have passed laws in favor of solar energy.
Solar Access Rights vary state by state—HOAs can’t legally stop residents from installing solar panels on their roofs, if your state has a solar access law so be sure and brush up on these regulations if you've got homeowners showing interest in installing solar panels. The cost of panels and their installation continues to decrease and by 2020, it's estimated that 3.8 million homes will have solar rooftop systems. Some communities even require some form of renewable energy. Solar is here to stay so as veteran parents say, pick your battles.
I can't imagine how much I would have saved had I been able to install those shiny solar panels. <sigh>