New Legislation Supports Homeowner Use of Alternative Energy Devices

Governor Ritter signed HB 1270 into law on Thursday, April 24, 2008.  This new legislation amends C.R.S. 38-30-168, which has prohibited certain restrictions on solar energy devices since the late 1970s, and adds a new section to the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act.  The new statutory provisions permit homeowners to install alternative energy generation devices, such as solar panels and wind generators, and other select, energy-saving improvements, despite any express prohibition of these items in the recorded covenants, conditions, and restrictions applicable to an owner’s home.  The statute will control in the event of a conflict between the terms of the recorded covenants and the legislation.  Homeowners associations and condominium associations may regulate these alternative energy devices only to the extent that the statutes allow.  Colorado homeowners can now install the following alternative energy, or energy efficient, devices, subject to applicable rules and regulations adopted by their community associations:
  • Solar energy devices
  • Wind-electric generators
  • Awnings, shutters, and other shade structures marketed for the purpose of reducing energy consumption
  • Garage and attic fans
  • Evaporative coolers
  • Energy-efficient outdoor lighting devices
  • Retractable clotheslines
The statute further defines solar energy devices and requires that wind-electric generators meet the Public Utilities Commission’s standards for interconnection. The statute does not give homeowners the right to place any alternative energy device on property (i) owned by someone else, (ii) leased, (iii) used as collateral for a commercial loan, or (iv) identified as general or limited common elements.

Colorado community associations may adopt regulations related to the size, placement, and appearance of the permitted alternative energy devices.   Associations may also address bona fide safety concerns in their rules for these improvements.  The statute does not preclude community associations from applying their established architectural review procedures before an owner may install a proposed device.

The specific requirements of the new legislation make a review of existing policies, and, most likely, the adoption of regulations concerning the installation of alternative energy devices, advisable.  If your community association would like assistance understanding this new legislation and implementing policies to address alternative energy devices, please contact one of our attorneys directly.