It is important for common interest community associations, their members, their boards, their management team and their service providers to constantly review and consider the nation’s continual push to end the country’s dependence on foreign oil, and to minimize the adverse effects of energy use. States all across the country have enacted, or are considering, laws and/or regulations concerning common interest community associations and cooperatives that may help the country achieve both of those goals.
In July, 2008 Pennsylvania created a state fund totaling $650 million to aid private parties in the development and/or use of alternative and renewable energy. A large part of that amount is available to homeowners and common interest community associations for the installation of solar energy technology. In 2007, New Jersey amended its Planned Real Estate Development Full Disclosure Act by adding a provision that makes it unlawful, in some circumstances, for a community association to prohibit an owner from installing solar panels on his or her roof. Florida law outlawed "ordinances, deed restrictions, covenants or similar agreements from prohibiting solar collectors, clotheslines, or other energy devices based on renewable resources from being installed on buildings erected on the lots or parcels covered by the deed restrictions, covenant, declaration or binding agreement." Florida, as well as Colorado, protects the right of owners to replace irrigated, chemically dependent lawns with more natural landscaping that requires little or no extra water or artificial life support (no association restriction or rule may prohibit any owner from utilizing ‘eco-friendly landscaping). Utah empowered its municipalities to reject any development application which involves a declaration which prohibits, or has the effect of prohibiting, solar collectors, clotheslines, "or other renewable energy devices". Pending in the Delaware Legislature is an amendment to Title 29. If enacted, it would ban and/or void any rule, restriction, covenant, or otherwise that “prohibits or unreasonably restricts the owner of the property from using a system for obtaining solar energy…”
It’s incumbent on management, board members and others to learn about all of these existing laws, and those that are pending in a general sense, but also to be proactive with respect to common interest community associations and energy use.