green energy site condoWill association landscapers have to dodge swirling wind turbine blades? Will grass become a quaint relic, replaced by huge arrays of solar panels? Well, probably not. But HB 6304, which was recently introduced in the Michigan House by Representative Neeley, allows us to imagine significant changes to the appearance and character of Michigan homeowner associations in favor of green energy if the bill were to become law.

The bill would invalidate any homeowners association restriction created on or after the effective date of the bill that “prohibits, or requires association approval for, a homeowner to install or operate an energy-saving improvement”. Such restrictions would be left solely to cities and counties to adopt and enforce.

Questions abound. What is an energy-saving improvement? The bill gives examples of clotheslines, solar panels, and wind turbines, but the definition is not limited to those examples. How about a greenhouse for plants? A shed with solar panels on the roof? Can the energy-saving improvement be placed on common elements? These are decisions that each individual homeowner association should be able to make.

While we generally support efforts to encourage adoption of green energy solutions, it’s clear that Representative Neeley needs to become more familiar with community association aesthetic and architectural issues. However, it’s also difficult to see how HB 6304 has any chance of moving forward given the political makeup of our current state legislature, so for now, we’ll wait and see if the House Committee on Energy Policy actually decides to hold a hearing on the bill before sounding any alarm bells.

You may also be interested in reading our prior blog post regarding California’s missteps in promoting green energy over association control. In another interesting development, California has mandated solar power for all new homes beginning in 2020.

Questions about how your governing documents can be improved to address green energy issues? Contact us at 248.644.4433 today.