Palmetto Dunes Property Owners Association first “Solar-friendly Community Award” recipient
April 6, 2011
With over 600 solar energy system installations documented throughout the state and increasing interest from homeowners to install systems on their property, conflicts have arisen with existing neighborhood covenants. These covenants, though initially designed to maintain the look of the neighborhood, unintentionally exclude a homeowner from investing in solar energy.
In 2005, as part of a US Department of Energy grant, the SC Energy Office developed covenant language that would designate a neighborhood to be ‘solar-friendly’. Communities that insert this or similar language into their covenants receive a “Solar-Friendly Community Award” and special recognition on the SC Energy Office’s website.
In early 2010, Mr. Koji Shimada from Palmetto Dunes on Hilton Head Island was very interested in reducing his electricity bill by utilizing photovoltaic solar panels, but when he initially approached the Property Owners Association for approval to install the panels on his roof, he was met with resistance. Fortunately, by working with a local solar installer, Jason Kechijian of SolarTEK Energy of Charleston, they were able to address the concerns about the appearance of the solar panels and design a system that would meet his energy reduction expectations. Mr. Shimada worked with the Architectural Review Board to amend the neighborhood covenants so that others in the Palmetto Dunes Community would be able to install solar energy systems for years to come.
After the covenant was amended, Mr. Shimada had a 7.095 kW solar photovoltaic system installed in February 2010 and in the past year the system has produced 11 MWh of electricity. This has helped to reduce his monthly bill, improve the environment and promote the benefits of solar to his neighbors. Mr. Shimada has real-time updates of his solar energy production sent to a website through state of the art Micro-inverters by Enphase Energy. The system is available for public viewing at: https://enlighten.enphaseenergy.com/public/systems/JmYP3133.
To obtain a certificate for a neighborhood or to request more information about the program, contact Erika Myers at (803) 737-8030. Sample covenant language may be found at http://www.energy.sc.gov/index.aspx?m=6&t=93 along with a complete list of “Solar-Friendly Communities”.