A group of homeowners on San Antonio’s far East Side are puzzled about why their homeowners association denied their applications to put up solar panels.
A Texas law passed in 2009 specifically forbids HOAs from restricting solar panels, but includes a paragraph that allows those restrictions if the subdivision is not built out.
That’s the case in the Parc at Escondido, a new neighborhood on the far East Side.
Maryann Monaghan wanted to take advantage of Texas’ blazing sunshine and applied to her HOA for permission to erect solar panels.
She drives an electric car, is an avid recycler and wanted to save money and the environment with solar panels.
"Over time, we're going to save a lot of money if we can get the solar,” Monoghan said. “And right now, there's an incentive."
But her application was denied by her HOA, which cited Section 202.010 of the Texas Property Code.
That section allows developer-controlled HOAs to "prohibit the installation of solar energy devices."
Neighbors here were stunned.
Some even signed petitions asking for solar panels.
Walter Kemper said he would accept the denial if the neighborhood democratically decided that it did not want solar panels, but pointed to the advantages of solar energy.
"Look at this sun,” Kemper said. “I mean look, this is energy right now that we're wasting because we don't have our solar panels up."
Tina Stola, who is from Germany, where conservation is more advanced, said she could not believe solar was not allowed.
"It makes me kind of wonder why they're fighting against it because if not here in Texas, where should you do it,” Stola said. “There's sun all year round."
Lanny Sinken, executive director of Solar San Antonio, a nonprofit agency that supports solar energy, said he was puzzled at the denial as well.
"When I say it's a mystery, it's a mystery," Sinkin said.
He said a developer put that loophole into the law but he does not know why it would ever be used.
"If someone drives into a new development and sees solar on the homes, they're thinking, well, maybe I want to do this,” Sinkin said. “Not I don't want to do this."
The developer running the HOA did not immediately return a call.
CPS Energy said despite the delay residents are experiencing in the Parc at Escondido, it still has plenty of rebates for those who install solar.
On Oct. 12, in Olmos Park, Solar San Antonio will host Solar Fest, to allow homeowners considering adding solar panels to meet the installers and see the equipment.