Several bills filed this session, which included some heard at Wednesday’s hearing of the Senate Intergovernmental Relations Committee would preclude homeowners’ associations from restricting installation of solar energy devices. These are:
- Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) – SB 238
- Sen. Jeff Wentworth (R-San Antonio) – SB 302
- Sen. Mike Jackson (R-La Porte) – SB 447 (identical to SB 302)
- Rep. Burt Solomons (R-Carrollton) – HB 362 heard last week in House Business and Industry Committee and almost identical to the Senate versions except it includes energy efficient “cool” roofs
Compromises may be in the works to tweak bills for smooth passage. At the hearing, West, who chairs the committee, reached out to the Homeowners Associations (HOA) in hopes of striking a balance and avoiding an impasse.
Homeowners have complained that HOAs are unfairly, and sometimes arbitrarily, preventing them from making their abodes more energy efficient using solar technology. The HOAs want to preserve their ability to protect property values from unsafe and unattractive equipment. The green energy industry, environmentalists, some developers and some realtors want to see more solar power used in Texas.
In the House, compromise language already is being crafted. One potential sticking point is whether to give HOAs any discretion over approval of the design or appearance of solar devices. Some members believe the issue has gone beyond property rights to include energy sufficiency, electricity conservation and grid stabilization.
West said he hopes that if he can convince his colleagues in both houses to ease HOA restrictions on solar energy, they may be more likely to pass SB 142, his latest attempt at comprehensive HOA reform. He has not yet set it for hearing.