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Michigan HOAs can’t ban solar panels under newly passed bill

Man installing a solar panel on the roof
Rooftop solar panels offset home energy costs, but some HOAs find them unappealing and ban their installation. (Shutterstock)
  • The Homeowners’ Energy Policy Act would prohibit homeowners associations from banning rooftop solar panels and other green improvements
  • It passed on party lines and awaits Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s signature
  • Proponents applaud the bill for removing barriers to renewable energy, while opponents fear the bill undermines neighborhoods’ authority

A bill awaiting Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s signature would prohibit homeowners associations from banning rooftop solar panels and other “energy-saving equipment.”

The proposed Homeowners’ Energy Policy Act, or House Bill 5028, passed along party lines in the Democratic-led Legislature, and landed on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s desk on Thursday. 

In Michigan, about 1.4 million residents are in HOAs, according to the Foundation for Community Association Research.


Those organizations sometimes prohibit residents from making home improvements that increase energy efficiency or reduce environmental impacts, such as solar panels, reflective roofing, rain barrels and electric vehicle charging stations. 

If Whitmer signs the bill, that would become illegal. 


The legislation’s chief sponsor, state Rep. Ranjeev Puri, D-Canton Township, said residents in his district contacted him after their HOA stopped them from making energy-efficient changes to their homes.

“It was strange, because the local township ordinances are okay with that, but it was these small HOAs prohibiting them,” Puri said. “As we modernize our infrastructure, as there are more electric vehicles on the road, as the technology for solar gets better, you are seeing homeowners want to adopt a number of these measures.”

But bill opponents, including the national group representing HOAs, contend the legislation would strip neighborhoods of the power to self-govern.

Matthew Heron, an attorney and legislative action committee co-chair of the Michigan chapter of the National Community Associations Institute, argued the state should have encouraged HOAs to allow energy improvements rather than forcing them to adopt policies they might not agree with. 

“This bill will mandate and require that certain things be allowed even over the objection or views of those who live in the community,” Heron said. “In our view, that undermines (HOAs’) democratically elected board of directors.”

Some HOA leaders see solar panels and rain barrels as unsightly risks to property values. But Puri said his legislation ensures they won’t become eyesores.

For example, HOAs could deny solar panels that extend more than 6 inches beyond the roofline, don’t conform to the slope of the roof or have visible framing or wiring that is not silver, bronze or black.


Bill supporters include the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council, a trade organization whose members include solar power and renewable energy companies. 

Grace Michienzi, the council’s senior policy director, said the bill is important to the state’s renewable energy industry, which is expanding amid a newly created legal mandate for Michigan to reach 60% renewable energy by 2035

“We’ve heard from some rooftop solar companies in our membership that it varies from outright bans on solar to maybe very strict requirements for solar,” she said. “(This legislation) protects a number of different energy-saving improvements.”

Michienzi said the bill “catches us up” to neighboring states, including Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Ohio, that already prohibit HOAs from banning energy-saving equipment.

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