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Governor signs bill to bolster rooftop solar panels

Prevents bans, restrictions by homeowners associations

A bill signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo should help foster more solar rooftop arrays like this one in Schenectady.

Paul Buckowski

ALBANY - In what may have been one of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s last bill signings, he earlier this month approved a measure that prohibits homeowners associations from restricting the use of rooftop solar power systems on people’s homes.

The measure will take effect 60 days from its Aug. 2 signing.

Sponsored by Westchester Assembly Democrat Sandy Galef and Brooklyn Democratic Senator Kevin Parker, the effort seeks to get out in front of worries that homeowners associations, or HOAs in planned developments or communities, are restricting the panel installations, possibly for aesthetic or other reasons.

Similar laws have already been passed in Massachusetts, Arizona, Florida and California.

The law also prevents restrictions that impede the efficiency of solar panels or those which increase installation or maintenance costs by more than 10 percent. HOAs can still deny permission to install solar systems but they must include detailed justification in writing if they do so.

“This bill will ensure that constituents living in HOAs who want to establish solar power systems to help the environment and to save money can do so. Those who have been denied that opportunity in the past will not face those barriers anymore,” Galef said.

Parker added that the law gives people the opportunity to take advantage of the state's clean energy incentives.

“Homeowners shouldn’t have to worry that their homeowners’ association will get in the way of reducing their carbon footprint and lowering smog and soot in the air by powering their home with solar energy,” Environmental Advocates of New York added in a statement. “This bill gives homeowners the right to choose solar.”

“Solar is increasingly viewed as a common component of homes, and its use should not be restricted,” according to the Alliance for Clean energy New York which represents green energy companies.


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