HOA member seeks advice over staggering $120000 energy bill: ‘It feels like solar could be a real benefit’ – The Cool Down

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A Southern California HOA shelled out a truly shocking amount for electricity in 2023, paying over $120,000 just to power their complex’s shared areas.

Given these eye-popping prices, one of their HOA board members turned to the subreddit r/HOA to ask for advice on installing a cost-saving system: solar panels.

“My condo complex is in Southern CA. Our area has the highest energy prices in the country and lots of sun,” they wrote. “It feels like solar could be a real benefit [for our entire complex] but it also seems like it would be way more complicated than for a single family home. Has anyone’s HOA done it?”

Commenters quickly delved into the problem, which turned out to be — unsurprisingly — complicated. While roughly 30% of Americans currently live in an HOA community, these associations don’t exactly have a reputation for making things easy. Solar panels have been a particular point of contention in recent years, as many associations have decided that they are an eyesore and have prevented homeowners from installing them for purely aesthetic reasons.

It’s not just limited to solar panels, either. In fact, HOAs are notorious for enforcing seemingly arbitrary rules on everything from the length of grass to the existence of small home gardens, the use of a simple laundry line, or even the presence of indoor plants

Fortunately for this pro-solar HOA board member, the cost savings of switching are difficult to deny. The average homeowner sees up to $1,500 a year in savings when they install solar, per Forbes. And for an HOA spending over $100,000 annually on electricity, those kinds of cost savings could be a game changer.

The biggest challenge in getting anything done through an HOA is overcoming some notoriously bureaucratic processes and strict regulations. But there are incentives to doing so. One commenter pointed out that the Inflation Reduction Act established new, larger incentives and tax rebates for solar installation — to the tune of a 30% rebate on the installation cost.

Another Redditor had a success story to share as motivation: “Our HOA did it … our power bill went from $1800 a month to $70 a month.”

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