(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, and any provision of a governing document, as defined in Section 4150 or 6552, 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.
(1) A solar energy system shall meet applicable health and safety standards and requirements imposed by state and local permitting authorities, consistent with Section 65850.5 of the Government Code.
(2) Solar energy systems used for heating water in single family residences and solar collectors used for heating water in commercial or swimming pool applications shall be certified by an accredited listing agency as defined in the Plumbing and Mechanical Codes.
(3) A solar energy system for producing electricity shall also meet all applicable safety and performance standards established by the California 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:
(A) For solar domestic water heating systems or solar swimming pool heating systems that comply with state and federal law, “significantly” means an amount exceeding 10 percent of the cost of the system, but in no case more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or decreasing the efficiency of the solar energy system by an amount exceeding 10 percent, as originally specified and proposed.
(B) For photovoltaic systems that comply with state and federal law, “significantly” means an amount not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000) over the system cost as originally specified and proposed, or a decrease in system efficiency of an amount exceeding 10 percent as originally specified and proposed.
(2) “Solar energy system” has the same meaning as defined in paragraphs (1) and (2) of subdivision (a) of Section 801.5.
(1) 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.
(2) For an approving entity that is an association, as defined in Section 4080 or 6528, and that is not a public entity, both of the following shall apply:
(A) The approval or denial of an application shall be in writing.
(B) If an application is not denied in writing within 45 days from the date of receipt of the application, the application shall be deemed approved, unless that delay is the result of a reasonable request for additional information.
(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.
(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 a state-sponsored grant or loan program.
(2) A local public entity may not exempt residents in its jurisdiction from the requirements of this section.
Related Case Law
- Tesoro del Valle Master Homeowners Assn. v. Griffin
(2011) 200 Cal.App.4th 619
[Architectural Control; Solar Energy] An association may consider aesthetic impacts in connection with reviewing and approving an owner’s application for a proposed solar energy system.