Solar Bill of Rights
Laws in California prohibit local governments such as homeowners associations from opposing or banning solar panels on homes. These laws are generally referred to as the Solar Bill of Rights.
The Solar Bill of Rights (SBR) provides three main defenses against entities opposing a homeowner’s ability to go solar:
- A regulation governing a solar installation cannot increase the cost by more than $2,000
- A regulation governing a solar installation cannot decrease the effectiveness by more than 20%
- Regulations cannot prohibit solar on health and safety grounds without those claims being documented and validated
This means that if a Homeowner’s Association prohibits all solar panels, they are probably in violation of the law. They can insist that certain measures be taken, such as a different type of installation that is less visible to the street, but only if those changes do not increase the cost by $2,000 or decrease the effectiveness by 20%.
Even though the SBR is written into law, remember that you’re dealing with your neighbors in these interactions. Oftentimes, a harmonious compromise can be worked out without resorting to legal actions. Make sure that you try to resolve conflicts with the other parties outside of court before you resort to legal action.
Q: My HOA is insisting that I install a lattice around the flat part of my roof so that my solar panels are not visible from the street. It would cost $1,500 to erect the lattice. Can they do this?
A: If this request is founded in the HOA agreement that you signed, then they probably have the grounds to enforce this restriction. This is only because the lattice costs $1,500. According to the Solar Bill of Rights, if it would cost you $2,000 or more, the HOA’s demand would probably not stand up in a court of law. This is also assuming that the lattice doesn’t cast a shadow on the solar panels – if it would decrease the panels’ output by 20% or more, then the restriction would be in violation of the Solar Bill of Rights.