Solar News from Washington State: It’s Another Mike Nelson Production

Just this month, the Washington State Legislature passed S.B. 5136, prohibiting homeowner’s associations (HOAs) from prohibiting the installation of solar energy panels (see DSIRE record).

While an HOA may issue guidelines related to visibility and aesthetic aspects of solar panel placement, it now cannot prohibit a resident or owner from installing solar panels, provided that the solar panels meet certain criteria. Solar panels must meet local and state health and safety requirements. Solar water heating systems must be SRCC certified (or certified by an equivalent national organization). Solar electric systems must meet NEC, IEEE, and UL or other testing laboratory safety and performance standards.

How did this happen? Why now?

“This was a no-brainer this session because it has no financial impact on the state’s budget,” said Mike Nelson. It’s been on my ‘to do’ list for a long time. This was the time to do it, and easily,” he said.

Nelson was especially excited about the recent passage of the state’s sustainable energy trust program to provide financing for energy efficiency improvements, including solar.

“It’s our version of the Berkeley FIRST model,”said Nelson. “Details yet to be worked out, but we’re using the public bonding model because it puts no financial strain on the state budget. The State’s housing authority will sell public bonds and use the revenue to finance systems for both conservation and renewables for residential systems. We’ve got an $11B deficit here in Washington, and anything that looks like it’s going to put a dent on the state budget, it’s a non-starter.” Washington State University’s Energy Program will administer the program.

Watch for the program details to be included in DSIRE soon.


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