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DC bill would prevent homeowners' associations from blocking access to solar

Cooperatives and homeowners' associations would be prohibited from restricting the installation of solar generating equipment under a bill filed with the Washington, D.C., City Council.

The Solar Cooperative Association Expansion Amendment Act of 2017, or B22-0229, would prevent homeowners and cooperative housing associations from establishing any prohibitions or "unreasonable" limitations on the installation of solar devices, according to the bill introduced by council member Charles Allen.

Allen introduced the bill with council members Mary Cheh and Anita Bonds. He said making the process easier for District residents to access solar power would help the district meet its renewables goal. Cheh was the lead sponsor of a bill that passed in July 2016 to require half of the city's power come from renewables by 2032. Of that goal, 5% must come from solar by 2032.

If passed, the bill would "put D.C. on par with neighboring jurisdictions that already limit HOA's ability to prevent solar," said DC Solar United Neighborhoods President Anya Schoolman, whose group promotes the installation of solar energy in the city. Schoolman said in an an April 4 email that limitations to solar access from HOAs "isn't a huge problem in D.C. but this legislation will be very important in a select number of situations where HOAs have gotten involved to prevent solar development."

The installation of solar panels on townhomes and community-run homes would be considered residential installations eligible for the city's net metering program, which credits customers for excess solar power at retail electric rates for systems at 100 kW or smaller per system.

The Council referred the act to the Committee on Transportation and the Environment with comments from the Committee on Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization.