Solar update

Early last year the committee researched solar energy and the process for homeowners to initiate an installation of solar panels on their roof. After some research by a small team lead by Scott Huff, the Board put on hold any further actions regarding Riverhouse HOA policy development and guidelines until Oregon’s Department of Energy had clarified its position on HOA homeowner’s rights in this matter. The law has been clarified, and now, by Oregon law, HOAs cannot prohibit installation of solar PV systems as long as the system meets all health, safety and performance standards required by state and local permitting authorities.

“A guide published by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) confirms that solar homes have higher appreciation rates.”
Oregon Dept of Energy Solar Ruling

However, HOA’s may establish “reasonable” rules related to aesthetic and placement of solar equipment. (RWC 64.38.055)
Learn more >>

Solar Energy

“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”
~ Thomas Alva Edison in 1931

Solar and Wind Energy Start to Win on Price vs. Conventional Fuels, according to DIANE CARDWELL in her NY Times article from NOV. 23, 2014.

For the solar and wind industries in the United States, it has been a long-held dream: to produce energy at a cost equal to conventional sources like coal and natural gas.

That day appears to be dawning.

The cost of providing electricity from wind and solar power plants has plummeted over the last five years, so much so that in some markets renewable generation is now cheaper than coal or natural gas.

Is Solar Energy starting to make cents? What do you think?

Solar Energy at Riverhouse?

On January 28, 2015, the Committee discussed its responsibilities regarding solar energy, in particular the use of solar panels on condo’s roofs. Given recent and pending legislation that appears to overrule HOA restrictions on individual owners installing solar energy systems, the Committee is asking the Board to take up this issue and possibly assign an ad hoc task force to develop a recommendation.

The Committee noted the following language in House Bill 3516 (Oregon Law), “With policy changes to encourage renewable energy, more homeowners are deciding to “go green.” Requests to install solar panels will likely increase in the future. Because no two communities are alike, a case-by-case analysis of the specific language in the governing documents is necessary to ensure the approval process is fair and complies with Oregon law.  HOAs need to be careful when dealing with requests for solar panel installations and should consult an attorney with any questions they may have.” (See Appendix 1).

Appendix 1

Solar Energy, HOAs, and HB 3516 (Oregon Law)

July 22nd, 2012
Author: Tom Johnson; Jeffrey Coe

In 2012, new legislation went into effect in Oregon involving the installation of solar energy systems on residential and commercial buildings. House Bill 3516 (2011 Oregon Laws Ch. 464, codified at ORS 215.439 and ORS 227.505) was enacted with the purpose of facilitating the installation and use of solar energy systems. The new law makes solar energy an “outright permitted use” in residential zones. This has left many HOAs wondering: “How does this affect us?”

HB 3516 applies to zoning ordinances in counties and municipalities. It streamlines the permit approval process for homeowners that want to install photovoltaic or solar thermal systems that meet certain criteria. It does not apply directly to homeowners associations.  A request to install solar energy panels can be a tricky issue for an HOA; governing documents are often vague about solar installations and many HOAs are left to balance the responsibility of preserving the aesthetics of a community with supporting homeowners’ efforts to be eco-friendly. Where restrictions do exist in the governing documents, boards must do their best to fairly enforce them without violating other Oregon laws. For example, an outright ban on solar energy contained in an association’s declaration would probably violate ORS 105.880. This law, in effect since 1979, voids provisions in real property transfers that prohibit the use of solar energy systems. How the statute affects an association depends on the actual language in the governing documents.

With policy changes to encourage renewable energy, more homeowners are deciding to “go green.” Requests to install solar panels will likely increase in the future. Because no two communities are alike, a case-by-case analysis of the specific language in the governing documents is necessary to ensure the approval process is fair and complies with Oregon law.  HOAs need to be careful when dealing with requests for solar panel installations and should consult an attorney with any questions they may have.