The US recently signed the IRA (Inflation Reduction Act) into law and while the passage of this significant energy bill indicates a positive trend in the US transition to clean, sustainable energy, before you get too excited and start calling an installer to hook up the latest and greatest energy tech on your roof, you may be surprised by a few things. Turns out, despite the US government applauding your decision to go solar and passing the IRA bill, many local authorities or utilities may enforce by rules that either prevent you from installing that dream system completely or negatively impact the systems production and your potential savings. Here’s the gist . . .
Although the US government and many states (possibly yours) may vitamentally approve solar, there are counties, municipalities, zoning, permitting offices or AHJs (Authorities Having Jurisdiction) rules in place that flat out deny homeowners the right to solar. Some are brazen enough to terminate the permit completely or require changes to the design that ignore the sun’s path and dramatically reduce the optimal production by forcing the homeowner to relocate the panels to the worst possible roof plain and both of these nullify the local and global benefits of going solar. None are more obvious than the state of Oregon where local officials allow utilities to charge homeowners fees for residential solar use that are often higher than the energy bill they were meant to replace. Or as recent homeowners in Ohio who found out in August of this year, despite the nation AND their state saying yes to their solar investment, their city said . . . Nope!
Thankfully key states such as California, Arizona and Texas have seen the writing on the powerwall and have revised the laws to encourage the adoption of solar and energy storage and in an act of solidarity with constituents, have passed extensive state level laws in such a way that they override or void the attempt of authorities (Talking about you HOA’s and permitting offices) to prevent smart homeowners like you in choosing smart energy investments like solar. While the city may try to say no, these states say YES, and in these cases, the state and the homeowner are the winners because of the new laws on the books.
But this energy journey isn’t true for all states, and ALL Americans. Right now the likes of Indiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin all score an F when it comes to their solar policies and represent a tough road for roughly 38 million solar ready homeowners despite the fact that they live in some of the sunniest states in the union. Irony is cruel.
So how do we make solar available for all Americans?
It all comes down to the local level. The fact is, each State, County, Municipality, permitting office or AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction) must update their laws to accommodate the ubiquitous energy future we all envision. And until these agencies make a change or are forced to change by new state level laws, these homeowners will continue to blindly stumble into the pitfall of pre bell bottom era energy laws and end up with no solar at all.
Installers and contractors are finding it difficult too. Should a solar company expand into a new region or neighboring county they may find the process of permitting, approval, installation and commissioning wrought with new procedures, rules, laws, setbacks and often only discover these unique requirements AFTER the sale’s been made. Regulations and safety are one thing, a Nation passing a solar prositive bill like the IRA only to have local authorities ignore it is something altogether strange and in need of major overhaul.
Like most things in America, positive change happens only when we the people roll up our sleeves and unite. It’s community members and readers like you who make the greatest difference. You’ve already done your part in reading this and other blogs like it about the state of our energy in America, but giving your representative a chance to hear a unified voice for solar is something drastically needed these days. It’s a simple mission with a simple process . . .
The first step is to do a little research and find out if the laws governing your energy project work for or against you. Ask a few key questions; Do the rules dictate you can’t have solar at all? If so, time to get to work. Does the pro solar law in your state explicitly offer room for a lesser authority to enforce panel placement that will destroy the systems production and lifetime savings? That won’t do. Make some noise!
The second and “making some noise” step is to send your representative a letter requesting they bring those specific outdated solar laws in your state, county city, HOA or AHJ into the 21st century and write them in a way that overrides any archaic and outdated rules that may pop up in the future within the confines of HOAs, AHJs and municipalities and permitting offices who simply refuse to change.
Conveniently, we’ve laid out a few of those steps for you on a silver platter below. You’re Welcome!
Clean energy focused letter for your representative with all the proper messaging? Check! A way to easily locate your local representatives AND their contact information so you can send that letter of utmost importance? Check Check! You’ll still have to research the specific solar laws that your property is subject to through an HOA, county or local government site, but hey, two out of three aint bad. Or you can ignore the third step and just jump straight into sending your representative an energetic letter. I’m sure they’ll love to hear from you!
A Final Word
While the US solar movement is at an all time high, its adoption and implementation is now dependent on removing outdated laws so every American has the ability and the right to move toward a cleaner, cheaper and Nerdier energy future!
Take a few moments to copy the letter below and send it off to your representative. It could make all the difference!
A Letter to your Representative
Thank you for your time. I’m writing today to share our families desire to go green and improve the quality of life for our family and the community we live in through the installation of a solar system on our home. But in order to do this properly, obstacles must be removed. We, and families like ours, need your help to get it done. We would love for our state to be an active and leading participant in the growth of a cleaner and smarter national energy future.
The solar industry has proven over the last 20 years to mean high paying wages and spur economic growth. But in order to accomplish these achievements at a greater scale, local laws must be in place that pair with the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act and proactively encourage and promote the streamlined installation of residential solar as well as the urgent removal of any rule or law that deploys inefficient approval delays or emposes production penalties on the homeowner. Unfortunately, too many situations are arising across the country and specifically here in our state, where utilities penalize solar production and local authorities reject solar installs entirely or enforce the relocation of panels which reduces production and nullifies savings and energy independence for the homeowner and the country. Although our state is suffering from these archaic energy laws these hurdles CAN be remedied.
Several states have enacted laws that pair with the Inflation Reduction Act by delegitimizing solar stonewallers and promoting energy security. One state applauding the decision to go solar is Texas as they’ve cleared the path for solar ready homeowners by passing SB 398, SB 63 and HB 362 and ultimately overriding local jurisdictions that would have otherwise halted residential solar installs and or negatively impacted solar production in their state.
Our state’s solar laws should follow the lead and override the attempts of HOAs, municipalities, and AHJs (Authorities Having Jurisdiction) who restrict solar installations or the production of the system once installed.
Energy independence through wind, nuclear and oil and gas has been a core bipartisan principle for generations. Today, an energy focused bipartisanship body should be busy with the business of enacting laws at every level that encourage residential energy investments as well as addressing the very real need to dismantle existing laws that restrict a homeowner’s ability to build a smarter and more secure energy future for their family and their community. Additionally, the very permitting processes required to complete the installation of a solar system install need to be nationally standardized to reduce government and contractor waste, reduce install times and redundancy and beyond those, eliminate edge cases that result in a clogging of the legal system due to homeowner’s being forced to enter litigation against an organization or authority attempting to limit, restrict or reject their right to clean energy on their roof.
It is through this letter we ask that you take an indepth look at the hindrances plaguing the families of our great state from going solar and do your part to convene with colleagues, reach across the aisle, climb onto a solar ready roof and extend a flag for solar and the security, savings and independence that it represents.
Our formal request is that you review the laws of our state at both the state and local levels to craft and submit a law that prepares and greatly, proactively, unapologetically supports the advancement of a cleaner and safer energy future for my family and the families of our state as well as take steps to develop and implement a national standard permitting process to advance the installation of solar and our nation’s energy independence.
Thank you for your time and consideration,
Now that you’ve got your letter copied and ready to send, you simply need to find the lucky representative you’re going to send it to. Click the banner below to enter your zip code and retrieve your local representatives’ contact information . . .
If you are part of the clean energy revolution and you live in one of the states we provide our Smart Energy Platform to and you’d like a quote from NERD POWER (The smartest Solar installer in America) then click the banner below …
And if you’re a clean energy nerd living in one of the remaining 55 states and want solar, be patient, the Nerds are coming! In the meantime, shoot your representative a message and let them know you’re serious about your community and your state adopting a clean energy future!
Now THAT’S SMART!