Solar Access Research


Solar access rights refer to the rights of individuals to install solar energy systems on their own property and to protect these systems' access to sunlight. Despite the fact that more than 90% of Americans support using more solar energy, some communities (governed by public or private entities) are bound by rules that may prevent property owners from installing solar energy systems on their homes or businesses.

Solar access laws seek to remove these barriers by ensuring that public or private entities are unable to prevent property owners from going solar by claiming that they reduce property values. Or that they’re ugly. Or for no reason at all.

Many states have some kind of provision addressing solar access or related issues, though the statutes vary widely in form and effectiveness. The The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) has an excellent solar access policy guide, which outlines the major components of an effective solar access law. It also has up-to-date state policy maps and information on current incentives.

While a lot of the action with regard to solar access occurs at the state level, there are may be opportunities to engage HOA's and local governments directly on the issue. In our guide, "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood", we discuss how educating communities on the benefits and technical aspects of solar - and encouraging them to update existing solar guidelines to conform with state solar access law and to clarify these rules to reduce the time and effort to get a solar project approved - can help bring more solar to more communities across the nation.

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The news clip below is from KARE-Channel 11, Minneapolis, MN and depicts one homeowner’s legal battle with his HOA to put solar panels on his roof.

In addition to our solar access work, we also conduct research in solar labor markets and other areas.