State Senate Wants HOAs to Allow Fun in the Sun

Bill would prohibit homeowners associations from barring solar panel installations

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    KXAS
    Most HOAs have guidelines that regulate the installation and position of solar panels, but the Senate bill would kick those requirements to the curb.

    With oil, natural gas and wind power, Texas has long led the way in energy development, and now lawmakers have their sights set on getting greener.

    A bill that has passed the state Senate creates $500 million in incentive rebates for homeowners who install solar panels as a form of renewable fuel. It also prevents homeowners associations from barring installation of solar panels.

    Most HOAs have guidelines that regulate the installation and position of solar panels.

    Richard Lemeiux, who installed solar panels on the roof of his Allen home to heat his pool, knows the fight firsthand. Some of his neighbors didn't like the look or position of the panels, resulting in a public battle with his HOA.

    "A lot of neighbors panic because they thought their house was going down in value," Lemeiux said.

    He said his solar heating system saves him hundreds of dollars each year in heating costs and extends his pool season, allowing him to swim earlier in the spring and well into winter.

    "We're all for greener energy," said Beverly Coghlin, president of Neighborhood Management Inc.

    But HOAs, which exist to preserve the look and integrity of their neighborhoods, often take issue with the cosmetics of solar panels.

    "We all want to protect our property values," Coghlin said. "We all want to make sure it looks nice and everybody enjoys where we live."

    Lemeiux said he may look to increase the number of solar panels he uses if the bill becomes law because sunshine in Texas fits his budget just fine.

    "It's free, and it's every year," he said.