The U.S. Department of Energy has just released, in conjunction with the Solar Foundation, guidelines for solar panel architectural restrictions in homeowner associations. The publication can be found here: http://thesolarfoundation.org/sites/thesolarfoundation.org/files/HOA%20Guide_Final.pdf
It notes that over half the homes in homeowner associations would be good candidates for solar panels, and if just 5% of all homes within homeowner associations were to “go solar”, emission reductions would be the same as removing over a million vehicles from the road. Also noted in the publication, the state of Georgia does not currently have statutes on this topic, but pending legislation may change this in 2014. Increasing panel efficiency and soaring energy consumption have sustained growing homeowner interest in this area.
With that in mind, now is the time for your Board of Directors to establish explicit regulations addressing items such as placement of panels, removal of trees, impact on future tree installations or other architectural requests, etc. Establishing expectations now reduces frustration leading to negative and combative homeowners.
Better yet, a Board-appointed committee that garners homeowner buy-in makes it less likely that someone will want to take advantage of future government regulations negatively impacting curb appeal. For example, the community reaches agreement that panels should be restricted to the back roof of any home. Homeowners start installing according to this regulation. A few years from now, neighbors are less likely to install panels on the front of the roof, or in the front yard, if the government prohibits restrictions on panel placement.
As with any Association regulation, voluntary compliance grows from mutual respect nurtured over a period of time. Have your homeowners proactively involved developing rules on “hot” topics such as solar panels!