Cities and counties in North Carolina generally may not adopt ordinances prohibiting the installation of "a solar collector that gathers solar radiation as a substitute for traditional energy for water heating, active space heating and cooling, passive heating, or generating electricity for residential property."(§ 160D-914.a)*
However, this does not prohibit development regulation regulating the location and screening of solar collectors as described previously, provided the regulation does not have the effect of preventing the reasonable use of a solar collector for a residential property. (§ 160D-914.b)
Nor does this prevent development regulation that would prohibit the location of solar collectors that are visible by a person on the ground and that are any of the following: (§ 160D-914.c.(1)(2)(3))
Furthermore, any deed restriction, covenant, or similar binding agreement that runs with the land that would prohibit, or have the effect of prohibiting, the installation of a solar collector for a residential property on land subject to the deed restriction, covenant, or agreement is void and unenforceable (§ 22B-20.b). However, this does not apply to solar collector that are visible by a person on the ground: (§ 22B-20.d(1)(2)(3))
In any civil action related to North Carolina's solar-access laws, the court may award costs and reasonable attorneys' fees to the prevailing party.
In Belmont Ass'n, Inc. v. Farwig, the North Carolina Supreme Court upheld § 22B-20, ruling that homeowner associations must explicitly include solar power restrictions in order to regulate solar panel improvements and installations. These restrictions must not exceed those outlined in § 22B-20.d(1)(2)(3).
Residential Property (§ 22B-20.b): The term "residential property" means property where the predominant use is for residential purposes. The term "residential property" does not include any condominium created under Chapter 47A or 47C of the General Statutes located in a multi-story building containing units having horizontal boundaries described in the declaration.
*SB 670 of 2007 used the term "detached single-family residences". HB 1387 of 2009 changed this term to "residential property". The sections of the bill dealing with city and county ordinances use a simple definition for residential property: "property where the predominant use is for residential purposes." The section of the bill dealing with deed restrictions and covenants uses a more nuanced definition for residential property, specifically stating: "residential property does not include any condominium created under Chapter 47A or 47C of the General Statutes located in a multi-story building containing units having horizontal boundaries described in the declaration. As used in this section, the term "declaration" has the same meaning as in G.S. 47A-3 or G.S. 47C-1-103, depending on the chapter of the General Statutes under which the condominium was created."
|Incentive Type:||Solar/Wind Access Policy|
|Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies:||
|Name:||N.C. Gen. Stat. § 22B-20|
|Date Enacted:||7/27/2007, subsequently amended|
|Name:||N.C. Gen Stat. § 160D-914|
|Name:||Belmont Ass'n, Inc. v. Farwig, 2022-NCSC-64|
|Name:||Energy, Mineral & Land Resources|
|Organization:||North Carolina Department of Commerce|
This information is sourced from DSIRE; the most comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewables and energy efficiency in the United States. Established in 1995, DSIRE is operated by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at N.C. State University.
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