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Solar rights and solar access are terms which describe ability of property owners to utilize sunlight on their property. Provisions can prevent current and future shading and installation of solar systems. Each state has its own unique policy and enforcement regime.
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Solar energy and finance can be complex topics for general consumers. It is important that property owners at the residential and commercial-level have a clear understanding of available products in order to make informed decisions regarding solar energy projects.
In some states, local governments have jurisdiction to enable solar rights through an ordinance. These ordinances would protect installations from shading, and remove restrictive covenants for solar PV in relevant zones.
Local governments can establish a recordation and tracking procedure for solar easements, which can be negotiated between property owners. These easements would serve to protect solar systems from future shading.
Homeowners’ and neighborhood associations can have independent authority over development. Local governments can work with associations to develop guidance for solar PV systems that are not unnecessarily restrictive. In some states, homeowners’ associations are required to follow state laws regarding solar access and cannot unnecessarily prohibit PV development.
In addition to discouraging homeowners’ associations, condo boards, and neighborhood associations from impeding solar, local governments can provide resources that would help these entities facilitate solar development. These associations can facilitate shared solar by studying suitability, determining host accounts, installing systems, and allocating credits in accordance to the state’s net metering policy. Homeowners associations can also be sources of community installation and purchasing, as in the case of shared solar.
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