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Energy attorneys: Virginia solar legislation strengthens homeowner rights, limits ability of HOAs to block rooftop solar installations

***PRESS RELEASE***
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 16, 2020

An updated educational report prepared by Richmond energy law firm ReisingerGooch PLC and Charlottesville-based nonprofit the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP), explains how a new Virginia law has significantly expanded the rights of homeowners who are a part of Homeowners’ Associations (HOAs) to install and use solar energy. The report provides homeowners and HOAs with helpful guidance on Virginia’s solar laws as they evaluate new residential rooftop solar installations.

Legal certainty for homeowners

During the 2020 General Assembly session, the legislature passed SB 504, which provides that HOAs may impose only so-called “reasonable restrictions” on the installation of rooftop solar. The legislation states that restrictions are unreasonable if they increase the cost of a project by 5 percent or decrease the project’s energy generation by 10 percent.

“This is a big win for homeowners and private property rights,” said energy lawyer Matt Gooch. “HOAs will now be highly constrained in their ability to limit rooftop solar installations.  The law turns the page on the practice of boards prohibiting street-side installations.”

Examples of restrictions that may be deemed “reasonable” under the new law include ensuring an installation is done in a professional manner and meets all local building codes.

Guidance for HOAs

The updated HOA solar report is intended to be a resource for both homeowners and HOAs.  “Even with the legislative fix to become law on July 1, this law can be complicated for HOA committees to interpret and, if not applied accurately, this confusion can cause costly, unnecessary delays for homeowners seeking approval for rooftop solar projects,” added Chris Meyer of LEAP. “Our hope is that this updated report simplifies the process for both HOAs and homeowners, improving the outcomes for all involved.”

“Just in the last couple of months, we’ve helped several homeowners across the state resolve conflicts with HOAs over rooftop solar, with excellent results for the homeowners,” added Gooch.

In addition to helping HOAs and their residents resolve problems, the report also highlights several homeowner benefits of solar, including decreased utility bills, increased property values, and roof protection from precipitation and UV rays. The installation of rooftop solar, particularly when paired with battery storage, enables homeowners to enjoy more self-reliance from the electric grid and greater reliability when the electric grid is otherwise disrupted from storms or other outage causes.

Thinking of going solar, but not sure where to start? Let LEAP help you every step of the way with our Solarize campaign, bringing clean energy to Virginia rooftops at discounted prices. Complete an interest form at solarizeva.org to get started.

CONTACT: Erin Morgan, Marketing and Outreach Manager, Local Energy Alliance Program, erin@leap-va.org, 540-407-2412

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ReisingerGooch PLC is a Richmond law firm providing regulatory and transactional counsel to renewable energy companies and public interest organizations, online at ReisingerGooch.com.

The Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit headquartered in Charlottesville, VA. As a trusted nonprofit, LEAP delivers direct education and services for improved energy performance that address climate change; create cost savings for families and businesses; healthier, safer, and more durable buildings; and local jobs and economic growth.
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