DOES YOUR ASSOCIATION NEED AN ENERGY POLICY STATEMENT?
In the recent months, a handful of Association clients have required assistance with homeowners requesting for the installation of solar collector systems (i.e. solar panels) on roofs. Under the Homeowners’ Energy Policy Statement Act (“Act”) (765 ILCS 165/ eq. seq), condominium, homeowner, and common interest community associations are provided certain rights, but must also comply with some restrictions.
An Association’s governing documents cannot prohibit, or have the effect of prohibiting, the installation of solar energy systems within the community. However, the Association can draft an “Energy Policy Statement” on the installation and use of solar collector systems to inform the homeowners with its policy on such installation and use. Although the Act labels this a “policy,” pursuant to Section 20 of the Act, the policy must be made a part of the declaration. Therefore, an amendment to the Association’s Declaration is required. This amendment does not require a homeowners’ vote.
Other important provisions of the Act that Associations should be aware of are: (1) the Association’s timeline to adopt its “energy policy statement”; and (2) the consequences of violating the Act.
(1) Unlike the recent Condominium and Common Interest Community Ombudsperson Act, an association is not required to have its energy policy statement in effect by a specific date. Only upon a homeowner’s application for the installation of a solar energy system, or request for an energy policy statement, is the association required to amend its declaration to include the energy policy statement. From the date of such application or request, the association has one hundred and twenty (120) days to prepare the policy statement and amend its declaration accordingly. At such time, the policy must include the location, design and architectural requirements of the solar energy systems, and whether the association will permit wind energy collection, rain water collection and composting systems, and if so, the location, design, and architectural requirements of those systems. If an association only wishes to permit a solar collector system such as solar panels, the association should deny the installation of any wind energy collection, rain water collection and composting systems. This can be revised at a later date through an amendment.
(2) If the association violates any provision of the Act, the association is liable to the homeowner/applicant/requestor for any actual and/or consequential damages such homeowner incurred. Further, if any litigation arising as a result of this Act, the prevailing party is entitled to its attorney’s fees and costs.
If your association needs an energy policy statement or your association has any questions concerning the Homeowners’ Energy Policy Statement Act, please contact Keay & Costello, P.C. for assistance.