Neighbors in conflict over solar panels

I guess we’ll be seeing more and more articles like this –

In this story, from the San Jose Mercury News, a judge ordered Carolynn Bissett Treanor and her husband Richard Treanor, to either trim or move two redwood trees on their property because they were shading Mark Vargas’ solar panels. The Treanors were actually convicted of violating California’s Solar Shade Control Act, which protects the owners of solar panels from trees that block or will later block sunlight. The law states that a tree or shrub planted after 1979 can’t shade more than 10% of a neighbor’s solar panels between 10 AM and 2 PM. The Trainors’ two trees collectively shade 15.8% of Vargas’ panels. What’s interesting is that the Trainors’ trees were planted between 1997 and 1999, while Vargas installed his solar panels in 2001.

While the article states that the two sides supposedly talked before the criminal charges were pressed, I have to wonder what was said. Seems to me that if I was going to install panels on my roof, I would take into account my neighbor’s trees and future growth. Perhaps offering to pay for the trimming would have solved the problem?
update 2/4/08
After seeing a comment from Bob stating that Mr. Vargas had offered to pay for the trimming of the trees, I found this update at the Mercury News. The newer article also has a neat aerial photo of the neighborhood – you can see the solar panels on the roof of Mr. Vargas’s house and the trees in the center of the dispute. It sure sounds like Vargas offered to pay for either the tree removal or trimming, but the Treanor’s refused. As of now, the Treanor’s are appealing the judge’s decision, which waived all fines, as long as the Treanors’ remove two of the trees.

While it’s nice to see the Mr. vargas didn’t demand that the trees come down without making an attempt to reimburse his neighbors, I still think that if I were to put up a solar system on my roof, I would take into consideration the “lay of the land”. If my neighbors had trees that I thought would grow higher, I would see if they were willing to remove them (which Vargas did do). However, when the neighbors were unwilling to trim of remove the trees, then I would have modified my solar plans accordingly.

5 thoughts on “Neighbors in conflict over solar panels

  1. This case reflects a little different mind-set than in Nevada, where the state legislature sided with the Home-Owners-Associations who fought against solar panels because they ruined the aesthetic appearance of the neighborhood roofs…

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  2. The solar panel owner actually DID offer to pay for trimming. The tree owners are being rigid and hypocrites. One of the tree onwers actually works in a nearby city and purchases solar power….ah the irony.

  3. Pingback: Alternative Energy Info » Blog Archive » UK trees spark wind turbine wrangle

  4. Ridiculous. The trees were there first. This Vargas guy should be responsible for himself, not expect others to become responsible for him. Why on earth would you put up solar panels on a house next to eight redwood trees? You can just see him moving to Alaska and suing the sun when winter rolls around…

  5. well it makes a change from my solar panel problem. I have two 120 watt panels, about 45 x 125 cms and at first put them on the roof of the shed where I have my ham radio gear. they charge up large batteries for my radios. fine except that the south facing slope of the roof where I put the panels is just about two metres from my neighbours fence. she complained that I was using them to steal her sunlight which of course coming from the south came over her garden !!! heaven preserve me from alcoholic, morphine addicted old biddies.

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