State Law Regarding Solar Panels
AB 1407, Wolk. Solar energy systems.
Existing law provides that any covenant, restriction, or condition contained in any deed, contract, security instrument, or other instrument affecting real property, as specified, that prohibits or restricts the installation or use of a solar energy system is void and unenforceable. Existing law requires that solar collectors meet the standards and requirements imposed by state and local permitting authorities, as specified. This bill would specify that a public entity may not receive funds from a state-sponsored grant or loan program for solar energy if it fails to comply with these requirements and would require a public entity to certify that it is meeting these requirements when applying
for these grants or loans. This bill would prohibit a local public entity from excepting residents in its jurisdiction from these requirements. The bill would also establish the particular standards that solar energy systems for heating water and producing electricity must meet, and would make a clarifying change.
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:
SECTION 1. Section 714 of the Civil Code is amended to read:
714. (a) Any covenant, restriction, or condition contained in any deed, contract, security instrument, or other instrument affecting the transfer or sale of, or any interest in, real property that effectively prohibits or restricts the installation or use of a solar energy system is void and unenforceable.
(b) This section does not apply to provisions that impose reasonable restrictions on solar energy systems. However, it is the policy of the state to promote and encourage the use of solar energy systems and to remove obstacles thereto. Accordingly, reasonable restrictions on a solar energy system are those restrictions that do not significantly increase the cost of the system or significantly decrease its efficiency or specified performance, or that allow for
an alternative system of comparable cost, efficiency, and energy conservation benefits.
(c) (1) A solar energy system shall meet applicable standards and requirements imposed by state and local permitting authorities.
(2) A solar energy system for heating water shall be certified by the Solar Rating Certification Corporation (SRCC) or other nationally recognized certification agencies. SRCC is a nonprofit third party supported by the United States Department of Energy. The certification shall be for the entire solar energy system and installation.
(3) A solar energy system for producing electricity shall also meet all applicable safety and performance standards established by the National Electrical Code, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and accredited testing laboratories such as Underwriters Laboratories and, where applicable, rules of the Public Utilities Commission regarding safety and reliability.
(d) For the purposes of this section:
(1) "Significantly" means an amount exceeding 20 percent of the cost of the system or decreasing the efficiency of the solar energy system by an amount exceeding 20 percent, as originally specified and proposed.
(2) "Solar energy system" has the same meaning as defined in Section 801.5.
(e) Whenever approval is required for the installation or use of a solar energy system, the application for approval shall be processed and approved by the appropriate approving entity in the same manner as an application for approval of an architectural modification to the property, and shall not be willfully avoided or delayed.
(f) Any entity, other than a public entity, that willfully violates this section shall be liable to the applicant or other party for actual damages occasioned thereby, and shall pay a civil penalty to the applicant or other party in an amount not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000).
(g) In any action to enforce compliance with this section, the prevailing party shall be awarded reasonable attorney's fees.
(h) (1) A public entity that fails to comply with this section may not receive funds from a state-sponsored grant or loan program for solar energy. A public entity shall certify its compliance with the requirements of this section when applying for funds from such a grant or loan program.
(2) A local public entity may not exempt residents in its jurisdiction from the requirements of this section.