NC Supreme Court rules HOAs can’t ban solar panels, but can say where they go

CHARLOTTE — More homeowners across North Carolina could be adding solar panels to their homes, thanks to a recent ruling from the state supreme court.

That ruling says homeowner’s associations can’t ban solar panels, but they can have a say in where they go. Despite that, one homeowner claims he’s still fighting to go green.

Gregory Abbott showed Channel 9′s Allison Latos where he wishes he could install 23 solar panels at his south Charlotte home on Esherwood Lane.

“They would be here on the front of the house which is not visible except from maybe 75 yards that way and that way,” he said, pointing.

He said he wants to help the environment, and the panels help Abbott’s family save money on their electric bill too.

“It’d be an 85% offset of use,” he said.

But Abbott needs his HOA to sign off on where those panels go.

“The HOA can still require them to be placed in certain locations,” said Attorney Benjamin Karb, who works with homeowner’s associations.

Karb says a June ruling by the North Carolina Supreme Court affirmed a homeowner’s right to install rooftop solar but, in most cases, a HOA can dictate where they’re placed.

“Unless the location chosen by the HOA prevents their reasonable use,” Karb added. “We don’t know what the threshold is as to when a solar panel’s reasonable use is impacted. We don’t know if it’s 5, 10, 25% the courts and legislature haven’t told us.”

Abbott says so far, he and his HOA haven’t agreed on where to put the solar panels.

“The alternative is placing the on the rear of the house which one, can’t fit as many and two, is only about 40% efficient,” Abbott said.

The Providence Arbours HOA attorney told Latos in part, its “consideration includes obtaining input from the community and our legal council as well as a detailed review of the plan as was submitted by the homeowner.”

“I’ve applied five times,” Abbott said. “I’ve been denied five times.”

Abbott says if he can’t get approval, he’ll still stay there, but he’ll be an unhappy homeowner.

“I’ll still be here and be bitter,” he said.

Attorney Karb says lawmakers need to clarify the reasonable use percentage of a solar panel’s function. So far, the legislature hasn’t done that.

Condos can still prohibit solar panels outright, however.

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