General Assembly enacts new solar panel legislation impacting homeowners association’s ability to regulate solar panels
The North Carolina legislature has recently enacted N.C.G.S. §22B-20, effective October 1, 2007, which has a limited effect on a homeowners association’s authority to regulate placement of solar panels on single family dwellings. The intent of the statute, generally, is to encourage the use of solar resources and to discourage homeowners associations from making the installation of solar technologies so cost prohibitive as to effectively discourage homeowners from using this alternate form of energy. The new law applies only to detached single-family residences – there are no restrictions on how a townhome or condominium association can regulate the installation of solar panels (including disallowing same). Generally speaking, a homeowners association may prohibit solar panels completely if they are visible on the house’s facade or slope of roof that is facing any area open to common or public access. The new law also provides that if not visible from the street of common areas, the homeowners association may still regulate the location and screening of the solar panels, as long as reasonable use of the solar panels can be made.