ALBANY - Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve heard the news about former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Embrolied in multiple sexual harassment scandals, the disgraced Governor was finally forced to resign.

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But… just before he did, Cuomo signed a bill. A bill that will help homeowners living in HOA (Homeowners Association) run communities install solar panels on their roofs, without pushback from the HOAs.

In many HOA run communities, going solar is a pipe dream. The reason is HOA’s tend to have strict bylaws, creating a conformity among properties so that individual homeowners can’t make improvements without approval from the HOA.

Measure To Take Effect Starting October 2021

The bill was initially sponsored by two Democrats in the state, Brooklyn Democratic Senator Kevin Parker and Westchester Assembly Democrat Sandy Galef. The idea is to shift power in these planned developments from the Homeowners Associations to the homeowners themselves. New York is not the first state to pass such a measure, with California, Arizona, Florida and Massachusetts all having similar laws on the books.

Many HOAs restrict solar panel installations for aesthetic reasons, although that’s not always the case. Cuomo’s law has multiple pieces to it, including a provision that will prevent restrictions that impede the efficiency of solar panels or those which increase installation or maintenance costs by more than 10 percent.

Under the new law, HOAs will still have the ability to deny community homeowners permission to go solar. With one big caveat: they will be required to justify, in detail, the cause for denial. And this justification must be in writing.

Galef and Parker Make the Case

Westchester Assembly Democrat Sandy Galef put it like this: “This bill will ensure that constituents living in HOAs who want to establish solar power systems to help the environment and to save money can do so. Those who have been denied that opportunity in the past will not face those barriers anymore.”

Brooklyn Democratic Senator Kevin Parker points out that this new law streamlines the process for New York residents to leverage the state’s clean energy incentives, rebates, and tax credits.

Renowned non-profit The Environmental Advocates of New York are excited about the measure as well, stating “Homeowners shouldn’t have to worry that their homeowners’ association will get in the way of reducing their carbon footprint and lowering smog and soot in the air by powering their home with solar energy. This bill gives homeowners the right to choose solar.”

Another non-profit advocacy organization, The Alliance for Clean Energy New York, is enthusiastic about this new measure as well: “Solar is increasingly viewed as a common component of homes, and its use should not be restricted.”

For green energy companies, non-profit advocates, and of course, planned development homeowners themselves, this bill is a huge win.

The rest of Cuomo’s week? Not so much.

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