When we profiled House Bill 65 a few months ago, pondering its prospects in committee, State Representative Kim Williams commented that the bill did not have support in committee.
What the bill would have done is enable the use of roof or ground mounted solar systems on privately owned residential dwellings property by making neighborhood or civic association covenants or other restrictions that effectively prohibit or unreasonably restrict the installation of solar photovoltaic systems in Delaware void and unenforceable, regardless of the date recorded.
So I assumed the bill was dead for at least this half of the session because of some opposition of certain NIMBY factions. I was wrong. At least about the bill being dead.
On the last day of the session, Rep. Williams introduced an amendment that seemed to answer the concerns of whomever was opposing the bill in committee, as the bill went from stalled in committee at 7 pm on June 30 to passed through both houses of the General Assembly by 1 am on July 1. Yeah, some rules had to be suspended in both houses for this to happen, but it was impressive.
What did the Amendment do?
It let stand prohibitions against ground mounted solar systems and it further no longer directly invalidated covenants against roof mounted solar panels, but said that those covenants can be invalidated by a simple majority vote of the neighborhood association, rather than the usual 2/3rds majority vote.
Further, the Amendment clarifies that the owner of property has the right to install a roof mounted system for obtaining solar energy on that owner’s property if, no later than 60 days before installing the system, the owner sends notice to the applicable maintenance corporation, homeowner’s association, or neighboring property owner that the owner intends to install the system. Then, in turn, the maintenance corporation, homeowner’s association, or neighboring property owner must provide the owner with input or direction on the placement of the roof mounted system for obtaining solar energy no later than 30 days before the owner’s proposed date of the installation of the system.
So the amendment restores a lot of process to mounting solar panels. It still establishes a clear right for the property owner to do it. I would have preferred a clear abolition of covenants forbidding solar panels, but obviously that kind of bill was not going to pass. So this is progress.
WHERE IS THE BILL? Passed the House 36-3-2 and the Senate 21-0. Sent to the Governor
DEMOCRATIC SPONSORS – K.Williams, Walsh, Bennett, Ennis, McDowell, Sokola, Chukwuocha, Kowalko, Lynn
REPUBLICAN SPONSORS – Cloutier, Pettyjohn
YES VOTES – HOUSE — Baumbach Bennett Bentz Brady Briggs King Bush Carson Chukwuocha Collins Cooke Dorsey Walker Dukes Gray Griffith Heffernan Hensley Jaques K.Johnson K.Williams Kowalko Longhurst Lynn Matthews Michael Smith Minor-Brown Mitchell Morris Osienski Postles Q.Johnson Schwartzkopf Seigfried Smyk Spiegelman Vanderwende Viola ||| SENATE — Bonini Brown Cloutier Delcollo Ennis Hansen Hocker Lawson Lockman Lopez McBride McDowell Paradee Pettyjohn Poore Richardson Sokola Sturgeon Townsend Walsh Wilson
NO VOTES – HOUSE — D.Short, Shupe, Yearick ||| SENATE — None
CONFLICT/RECUSE – Bolden, Ramone