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Condo | HOA Lawyers

Solar Panels – Can I get a Tax Credit for Installing Them?

What you need to know:

  1. The Inflation Reduction Act extended the Federal Residential Solar Energy Credit and raised it from 26% to 30%;
  2. The Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy published the following guidelines for determining if homeowners are eligible to receive the 30% tax credit;
  3. Members of homeowner associations, condominiums, and tenant-stockholders of cooperative housing corporations are eligible for the tax credit if they pay part of the costs of installation of an eligible solar energy system.

What do I need to be eligible to receive the tax credit?

  1. The solar system was installed between January 1, 2017, and December 31, 2034.
  2. The system is located at your residence within the United States.
  3. Either:
    • Do you own the system, or
    • “You purchased an interest in an off-site community solar project, if the electricity generated is credited against, and does not exceed, your home’s electricity consumption.”
  4. This system is new and being used for the first time.

What about our Association Rules prohibiting Solar Panels? There are some relevant laws that MAY help you with installing solar panels on property that you own:

  1. Wis. Stat. § 236.292 voids any restriction that prevents or unduly interferes with the construction and operation of solar energy systems. Accordingly, Wisconsin law protects homeowners and associations who wish to install solar panels on their property.
  2. Wis. Stat. § 60.61(2)(i) allows town boards to use zoning laws to “[p]rovide adequate access to sunlight for solar collectors and to wind for wind energy systems”
  3. Wis. Stat. 66.0401(1m) prevents municipalities and counties from restricting the installation of a solar energy system unless:
    • The restriction protects public health or safety,
    • Does not significantly increase the system’s cost or significantly decrease its efficiency, or
    • Allows a different system of similar cost and efficiency to be used instead.
  4. Homeowners are also protected against future obstructions. Wisconsin law allows for damages for “obstruction of solar energy by a structure outside a neighbor’s building envelope as defined by zoning restrictions in effect at the time the solar collector…system was installed.” Wis. Stat. § 700.41(1).
  5. Vegetative growth obstructing solar panels, which were not present when the panels were installed, is considered a nuisance under Wis. Stat. § 844.22.

Based on the above, there are various laws to be considered when deciding whether or not to grant a request by a unit owner or homeowner to install solar panels. Having a comprehensive plan for your association, that complies with the law, is the key to effectively administering solar panels. 

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