Solar System Laws and Permits
As with anything, you have to comply with laws and permit requirements when it comes to installing a solar energy system. For the most part, US laws favor solar energy, but there are isolated cases of community associations who still resist solar paneling.
In terms of permitting, most local jurisdictions base building and electrical inspections on The National Electrical Code's Article 690. There might be some local exceptions to this broad standard, but this does offer a broad guide to national standards.
This lengthy standard, set forth in the 1990's (with some additional revisions), sets out requirements for wiring and hookup. Download Sandia's guide to Article 690.
Avoiding Common Problems is Easy
- Choosing a solar provider who knows local laws and standards.
- Like laws in general, permit laws are meant to protect you. Common problems with solar electric systems include excessive roof load, improper wiring and unlawful tampering with water supply.
- You can save yourself a lot of trouble by researching local ordinances. Call your local city hall and get in contact with their experienced experts on solar.
Community Resistance is Often a Myth, But Not Always.
We can't deny that there are communities and homeowner's associations with entrenched strong resistance to things like solar panels. In some cases, there is little that one can do to fight this resistance, except to push for a new look at old laws and wait for people to come to their senses. In the US, it is a general trend (2005) that states are actually leading the way in making solar easy to buy and use, with new legislation and state incentives.
The Law is Often on Solar Energy's Side
Most states and municipalities do encourage the use of renewable energy systems. You might be surprised at how many laws (in the US and certainly around the world) actually encourage the use of solar energy. This trend is growing (as of summer, 2005).
One might think, for example, that the state of Texas would have conservative laws that don't encourage renewable energy. However, just like many other states it has state tax exemptions for solar. For example, Texas Property Tax Code, Subsection C, Section 11.11, exempts solar and wind energy devices from property taxes.
In another example, the state of California has a specific law protecting the rights of solar owners against obstructions. The Solar Shade Control Act of 1979 prohibits shading of solar collectors by tree growth (e.g. from a neighbor's property) occurring after a solar collector has been installed. This Act applies to solar systems of all kinds, including solar electric generation, solar thermal and solar pool heating. The law prohibits placement or growth of any plant that shades a solar collector more than 10% between 10am to 2pm.