Michigan legislation bars homeowners associations from banning solar

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The Homeowners’ Energy Policy Act (House bill 5208) was introduced in September 2023 by Michigan Representative Ranjeev Puri (D-Canton Township) in support of solar generation on condominium rooftops in the state. The bill passed in the House and Senate and now awaits the Governor’s signature.

Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer has a strong track record of support for clean energy. In 2022 she announced the Michigan Healthy Climate Plan, which proposes that the state gets to 60% renewable energy resources and build infrastructure to accommodate millions of electric vehicles by 2030. The plan has been under development since 2020 when the Governor committed Michigan to achieving economy-wide carbon neutrality by 2050. This included interim reductions of 28% by 2025, 52% by 2030, and maintaining net negative greenhouse gas emissions after 2050.

1.4 GW of solar installed as of Q1 2024 and is ranked 26th in the nation for solar installed, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, which projects that the state will install another 3.7 GW in the next five years.

When signed, the bill will enable an estimated 1.4 million Michigan condo owners to install solar.

The bill is supported by the trade organization Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council (EIBC), and senior director of Policy Grace Michienzi testified in favor of it before the Michigan Senate Committee on Housing and Human Services earlier this year.

“We can respect desired neighborhood characteristics without creating de facto bans on energy-saving consumer products. House Bill 5028 helps ensure Michiganders are able to take advantage of energy technologies while also supporting and growing thousands of clean energy jobs in the state,” Michienzi said in a statement on June 20. “With this bill now headed to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s desk for signature, our state will join our neighbors in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Ohio in establishing similar pro-consumer measures.”

Michigan is not alone in moving forward legislation barring homeowners associations from banning solar. In January the Nebraska Judiciary Committee heard testimony for a proposal that would prohibit homeowners associations (HOA) from restricting the installation of solar panels on homeowner property. 

The bill, LB1119, was introduced by Lincoln Senator George Dungan. The Sierra Club testified in support of the Nebraska bill. It said solar energy has become more popular, affordable and durable in recent years, and tax credits have made installation lucrative for homeowners. Sierra Club said there is no evidence that homes with solar panels lower the value of neighboring properties.   

“Solar panels on a roof are not an eyesore but an adaptation to a new technology, which is helping our planet reduce the use of fossil fuels and should be encouraged rather than opposed by local and state governments,” said Al Davis, Sierra Club, Nebraska chapter, in a testimony for the bill. 

The Nebraska bill’s author, George Dungan, said homeowners should, within reason, be able to do what they wish with their property.

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