Solar Panels vs Redwood Trees – How the courts ruled

Redwood Trees

Redwood Trees

Solar Panels vs Redwood Trees and how the courts ruled in favor of the solar panels.

I was having dinner with family when somene brought up a court rule about trees blocking the neighbors solar panels. I read up on it and  found it interesting. Something to know whether or not you have solar panels on your home.

In 2001, a home owner in Sunnyvale installed solar panels on the roof of his home. The next door neighbor had several redwood trees growing on their property however at the time of installation the trees did not block the sunlight from shining onto the solar panels. Over time the redwoods grew taller and eventually blocked the sunlight from the panels. The owners of the redwoods did not think they should have to cut down the trees because they were planted before the solar panels were installed. But, after 6 years of legal battles, the judge ruled in favor of the solar panels. The owners of the redwoods was ordered to cut down 3 of the 8 redwood trees.

You may be surprised to learn that there an obscure California law enacted over 3 decades ago requires that any new growth from trees can not block more than 10% of the production from 10am – 2pm each day. This is the first time the “Solar Shade Control Act” was used in court. The fines for not complying with the law could be up to $1000 per day. After this ruling the owners of the redwoods decided not to appeal because of legal fees and court costs. However, they are asking lobbyist to help overturn or modify the current act. Time will only tell whether this will happen.

As a fellow homeowner, properties that have trees on the northside (as a general rule) of your lot, may be asked by their neighbors to keep your trees trimmed or have them cut down. And, it might not be just your neighbor asking. Companies supplying and maintaining these panels for profit may ask themselves. With this court ruling in their back pocket, they would have every right to ask for you to comply.

Hope you found this interesting.

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