Minnesota homeowners and solar advocates are backing a bill that would prohibit HOAs from banning rooftop solar panels.
Homeowners associations (HOAs) across Minnesota have become a barricade for folks wanting to install solar panels to their homes. This legislative session, a group of homeowners and solar advocates are asking Minnesota lawmakers to support a bill which would prohibit homeowners associations from banning the installation of solar panels on single-family homes. Homeowners associations, however, would still be able to regulate installations. The bill has passed through the House, but has no Senate companion bill.
Energy News Network reported on the issue earlier this month, and spoke with Cedar Creek Energy CEO Rob Appelhof. According to the article, Minnesota is one of 23 states where HOAs are allowed to forbid members from adding solar to their homes. Some associations directly outlaw solar panels, but many do not have bylaws related to solar installations, which leaves solar installation as a case-by-case decision for board members.
In the article, Appelhof expressed his frustration. He explained HOA committees sometimes have the mistaken, knee-jerk reaction that solar panels lower property values for homeowners and their neighbors, although at least two studies have shown buyers are willing to pay a premium for homes with solar panels.
Appelhof, who lives in an HOA community, is one of the many solar industry advocates backing the bill. He says part of the frustration is that homes in newer, planned communities with homeowners associations often have ideal conditions for solar panels. This is because, for many communities, their neighborhoods used to be fields. They offer open areas without dense trees blocking daily sun, making homes ideal for solar.
Bills revolving around homeowners associations’ ability to ban solar energy have surfaced in the past, but have yet to become law in Minnesota. The growing popularity of solar, especially in a new Presidential administration that is open to renewable energy sources, brings hope to the solar advocates and homeowners that the bill might stand a better chance at passing. Plus, solar panel designs have been updated and upgraded over the years, making them more attractive to homeowners.
According to Energy News Network, the law could open a potentially significant market for solar companies, as one in four Minnesotans lives in one of the state’s more than 7,700 HOAs.