As the costs of residential solar panels decrease, going solar is becoming a very efficient and sustainable option to electrify your Rossmoor home. The need to establish a Residential Solar Committee arose when some residents approached their Mutual with the request to install solar panels and ran into resistance. In keeping with Sustainable Rossmoor’s goal of promoting environmentally sustainable practices here in Rossmoor, the Committee immediately focused its efforts on educating Mutual Board Members about the benefits of residential solar, and a homeowner’s right to install rooftop solar as guaranteed by the Solar Rights Act.
What’s the Hold Up?
At the center of the issue are two state laws – the Solar Rights Act, which promotes and encourages the use of rooftop solar energy systems, and the Davis-Stirling Act which governs homeowner associations (HOAs). HOA attorneys and environmental attorneys disagree on how to interpret the two laws, and the issue has yet to be tested in court. Some of the Mutual Boards in Rossmoor, urged by their attorneys, began to consider imposing new requirements for installing solar that made it almost impossible to gain approval.
During 2016, the Committee rallied grassroots support to attend and speak at Mutual Board meetings, and to write letters to the Rossmoor News, urging Mutual Boards to adopt more solar-friendly policies. In December of 2016, in an effort to enhance community awareness of the issue, the Committee organized a public forum on residential solar, and invited Commissioner David Hochschild of the California Energy Commission, and Carter Lavin of the California Solar Energy Industry Association to speak on the state’s and industry’s efforts to promote rooftop solar energy systems. Nearly 100 Rossmoor residents attended the event, including several Mutual Board Members. Sustainable Rossmoor taped the event and it’s available for viewing here.
Because rooftop solar installation was effectively blocked in certain mutuals in Rossmoor, the Committee launched a legislative effort to ensure that Rossmoor’s condominium owners have easier access to electricity from their own rooftop solar energy systems. Sustainable Rossmoor sponsored California AB 634 — state legislation to resolve conflicts in existing law (by clarifying the California’s Solar Rights Act) and thereby strengthen the rights of all of California’s condo owners to install rooftop solar panels. The successful passage of AB 634 into law (effective January 1, 2018) is detailed in the AB 634 section of this website.
This committee also decided to continue our efforts to educate Rossmoor residents and Mutual Directors on the advantages of using solar energy. In addition, we reached out to environmentally-friendly HOAs outside of Rossmoor, pro-solar HOA advocacy groups, as well as state officials. Our goal is to make it possible for every Rossmoor homeowner (who wishes to) to have solar panels installed on their rooftops.
Current members on the Residential Solar Committee are Brent Barnhart (Chair), Bob Hanson, Kent Steele, and Jennifer Mu. Other Sustainable Rossmoor members are welcome to join our effort. The Committee currently does not have regularly scheduled meetings but meet on as-needed basis.