The Right to Install Solar Energy Devices Act, as enshrined in Texas House Bill (HB) 362 and Senate Bill (SB) 1626, has paved the way for residents to harness the power of solar energy. Aspiring solar owners, however, should navigate the regulations carefully, especially when dealing with Homeowners Associations (HOAs), and understand the nuances of the production vs. consumption analysis.
The Texas Solar Rights Act
HB-362: Breaking Barriers for Solar Owners
HB-362, a landmark legislation, limits the authority of HOAs and Property Owners Associations (POAs) in restricting solar devices outright. While homeowners within HOA-governed neighborhoods must follow the standard procedures for seeking improvements, the legislation significantly curtails the ability of associations to veto solar installations.
According to Texas Property Code Section 202.010, HOAs and POAs cannot outright prohibit or restrict a property owner from installing a solar energy device, except under specific conditions. These conditions include legality concerns, public health and safety violations, location on common property within the subdivision, non-compliance with roof aesthetics, installation without prior approval, and using non-approved colors.
Notably, if a solar array produces more than 10% of the homeowner’s energy needs, the HOA cannot deny the installation on the property.
SB-1626: Closing Loopholes for Developers
SB-1626 complements HB-362 by closing previous loopholes that allowed developers to prohibit homeowners from installing solar panels during the development period, but only in residential subdivisions consisting of 50 or fewer units. This legislation ensures that the right to install solar energy devices is upheld even during the initial phases of residential development.
While the Right to Install Solar Energy Devices Act is a victory for solar enthusiasts, it’s essential to understand the limitations imposed by HOAs. Homeowners in HOA-governed areas must adhere to procedures for seeking improvements, including written requests to an
Architecture Review Committee. HOAs retain some authority to regulate solar panel placement, colors, and aesthetics, but homeowners can petition for alternate locations using tools like the PVWatts Calculator to demonstrate increased energy production.
Who Regulates Solar Power in Texas?
Local governments in Texas play a crucial role in promoting solar energy. Municipalities, political subdivisions, institutions of higher education, and state agencies within ozone non-attainment and near non-attainment counties are mandated to reduce electrical consumption.
Expanding solar energy generation is a viable means for entities in non-attainment counties to meet their energy reduction goals. Additionally, Appendix T of the ICC 2018 International Residential Code provides solar-ready provisions for new construction, ensuring that homes are equipped for solar installations.
Nonprofit utilities, often excluded from deregulation, offer a stable and low-cost alternative for Texans interested in solar power. Munis and co-ops have the option to participate in competitive retail markets but can remain vertically integrated. Utilities should be aware of interconnection and registration requirements associated with distributed generation.
Every distributed generation resource added to the ERCOT grid requires an interconnection agreement, with additional county and city permit regulations to consider.
The Solar Rights Act Insures a Solar-Powered Future in Texas
The Right to Install Solar Energy Devices Act has opened doors for Texans to embrace clean, sustainable energy. Understanding the regulations, especially when it comes to HOAs and solar panels, is paramount for a seamless solar installation process.
With the support of local governments and the stable path offered by nonprofit utilities, Texas is poised for a solar-powered future. As residents harness the abundant sunshine, they not only contribute to environmental sustainability but also exercise their right to a brighter, cleaner energy landscape.
Get in touch today, and we can help you make the switch to solar.