This bill voids any and all homeowner association or other covenants or restrictions that prevent a private homeowner from placing solar panels on the roof of his or her home or on his property. The bill also states that it will be the policy of the State of Delaware to protect the public health, safety, and welfare by encouraging the development and use of renewable resources of energy and to remove obstacles thereto. Further, this bill awards the costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees to be homeowner in any litigation challenging the placement of solar panels on his or her property. But, this Bill does not render void and unenforceable reasonable restrictions on roof or ground mounted solar systems. For example, if your roof or property cannot handle the weight of a certain number of panels.
This is a great bill and all Democrats must vote for it.
AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 25 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEMS AND RESTRICTIVE COVENANTS
SPONSORS: Williams, Bennett, Cloutier, Ennis, Keeley, Kowalko, Lynn, McDowell, Miro
YES VOTES: [HOUSE]: Baumbach, Bennett, Bentz, Bolden, Gray, Heffernan, J. Johnson, K. Williams, Keeley, Kowalko, Longhurst, Miro, Mitchell, Mulrooney, Potter, Schwartzkopf, Viola
NO VOTES: [HOUSE]: B.Short, Brady, Briggs King, Carson, Collins, D. Short, Dukes, Hensley, Hudson, Jaques, Kenton, Lynn, M. Smith, Osienski, Outten, Paradee, Postles, Q. Johnson, Smyk, Spiegelman, Wilson, Yearick (Matthews was absent, Ramone did not vote).
HISTORY: Defeated 17-22-1-1.
STATUS: Bill is dead for now.
I’m a little skeptical about this one. I’m all for it in spirit, but this goes in and unilaterally rewrites a ton of private contracts. Is that constitutional? And even if it is, should it be done? This doesn’t seem all that different than some Republican-held legislatures going in and obviating city statutes, like with the North Carolina HB2 bathroom bill. Not to say that it’s on that level, but it does give me pause.
There are already a bunch of covenants that have been struck down. There are places in Delaware that had deed restrictions against African-Americans, Jews, maybe even Italians on the books. Those were invalidated decades ago. In 1996, most of the bans on satellite dishes were struck down. I think just last year the legislature invalidated rules that forbid the display of the American flag.
A few years ago, the legislature also disallowed any new deed restrictions from banning solar panels. I think that law was a compromise to appease some Greenville residents that didn’t want to have to look at them on their neighbors’ houses.