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Real Estate Law Issues for Solar Energy: Introduction to Government Incentives

Once the sole domain of the ecologically minded, the green building movement has gone mainstream. Part of the green building movement has been the increase in solar power use in homes and businesses. The decision by homeowners and businesses to install solar electric systems, which are also known as photovoltaic (“PV”) systems, may be made for a variety of reasons. Some want to preserve fossil fuels and reduce air pollution. Some want to invest in an energy producing improvement to their property. Still others like the independence of a solar system, making them less vulnerable to increases in energy prices. A number of government incentives have helped spur this growth of the solar market. However, the increased interest in solar energy and solar systems has created certain real estate law issues, including: (1) the creation of solar easements, (2) restrictive covenants and homeowner’s association requirements, and (3) compliance with zoning and building codes. This article highlights the current state of the solar market and government incentives, with future articles highlighting each of items (1) through (3) above.

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