Michigan gets right-to-solar – now you can tell your HOA to stuff it


Michigan gets right-to-solar – now you can tell your HOA to stuff it

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed a new law ensuring Michigan homeowners can install a variety of energy efficiency improvements on their homes, including EV chargers, solar panels, heat pumps and more.

Many homeowners will be aware of the oft-draconian measures that can sometimes be imposed by homeowners’ associations (HOAs).

In the name of “preserving the nature of a community,” an HOA might go beyond the relatively reasonable idea of ensuring that houses do not fall into disrepair and instead start limiting entirely reasonable and unintrusive things like EV chargers or other energy efficiency improvements.

In some cases, it’s gotten bad enough to require legislation, and Michigan just became the latest state to act.

The law is called the Homeowners’ Energy Policy Act, and it passed through Michigan’s statehouse by a party line vote, with Democrats supporting and republicans opposing the measure that secures the freedom of homeowners to make energy efficiency improvements to their own property. It was signed by Gov. Whitmer on Monday and will go into effect in 90 days.

The law covers a large number of energy-saving improvements, from as simple as a clothes-line to as high tech as solar panels and heat pumps. Each improvement listed in the law had been denied by at least one HOA within the state prior to it being included in the list.

“Energy-saving improvement or modification” would include, but is not limited to,: a) a clothesline; b) air source heat pumps; c) ground source heat pumps; d) insulation; e) rain barrels; d) reflective roofing; f) energy efficient appliances; g) solar water heaters; h) electric vehicle supply equipment; i) energy-efficient windows; or j) energy-efficient insulation materials.

Michigan legislature’s summary of the law

And it doesn’t just ensure that homeowners can install these improvements, but requires that HOAs approve reasonable projects quickly and restricts them from imposing additional roadblocks like post-installation reporting or extra fees.

Michigan joins a number of other states with similar rules, though not all of them are quite as sweeping. California first passed a Solar Rights Act all the way back in 1978, and there are a number of other states with similar laws – though each have their own specifics.

There are also several states with “right-to-charge” policies, ensuring that homeowners can install EV chargers, a list which Michigan joins with this new law. Some of these states also require that renters be allowed to install chargers, but Michigan’s new law does not include a provision for renters as far as we can tell.

Electrek’s Take

This is great news, though it’s unfortunate that such a sweeping law didn’t include assurances that renters would be able to install EV chargers.

Among a huge number of perceived problems with EVs which are not actual problems, one actual real problem is the comparative difficulty of charging for apartment dwellers as opposed to those who live in single family households. And one way to fix that is to implement “right-to-charge” laws that cover renters, not just homeowners.

Michigan’s law didn’t go so far as to do that, so while the state took a baby step towards right-to-charge by at least stopping HOAs from restricting the installation of chargers, it could have (and should) go further.

But, regardless of that, this is a good law which can hopefully become a model for other states right now – NIMBYs be damned.

These home efficiency improvements are a no-brainer for so many homeowners, especially with ample government incentives available to help pay for installations of heat pumps, solar panels, and so on. Reducing the amount of friction and red tape for installation can only be a good thing here – saving homeowners money, and reducing energy use which benefits all of us (so of course, like any good idea that also enhances personal freedom, republicans voted against it…)

And the absolute best thing? Getting to tell your HOA to stuff it, and having the law on your side.

If you live in Michigan – or in one of the 28 other states with Solar Access laws – why not look into installing solar? Not only do you get to tell your HOA to shove it, but you can also save money on energy bills, be more energy independent, and have less impact on the environment while you’re at it.

To find a trusted, reliable solar installer near you that offers competitive pricing, check out EnergySage, a free service that makes it easy to go solar. They have hundreds of pre-vetted solar installers competing for your business, ensuring you get high-quality solutions and save 20-30% compared to going it alone. Plus, it’s free to use and you won’t get sales calls until you select an installer and share your phone number with them. Your personalized solar quotes are easy to compare online and you’ll get access to unbiased Energy Advisers to help you every step of the way. Get started here. – ad*

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