Solar news: April 8th, 2022

In this week’s news roundup, we discuss an important update in solar legislation in North Carolina and cover potential tariffs on solar panels made in Southeast Asia.

North Carolina supreme court to rule on HOA solar regulations 

The North Carolina supreme court will hear arguments for a case involving exceptions to the state’s solar access laws. North Carolina’s solar access laws apply to homeowner associations (HOAs) created after 2007. However, a loophole allows HOAs to block the installation of “improvements” they believe are aesthetically damaging to the community. 

Since the inception of this law, installers and solar advocates have been fighting back with claims that this loophole allows HOAs to prevent hundreds of residents from going solar annually. In Farwig v Belmont, homeowner Tom Farwig argues that his HOA did not have the right to block his solar installation because their regulations surrounding “improvements” do not specifically include solar. To counter, his HOA, the Belmont community association, says they still have the right to regulate his decision even though it is not included specifically in their guidelines. 

The court’s decision will offer clarity to homeowners. It could also have a strong impact on solar access in North Carolina in the future for anyone living in a community with an HOA.

Biden administration is considering tariffs on solar equipment made in Southeast Asia

Trade officials recently announced a plan to investigate solar equipment made in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia. This investigation comes at the request of Auxin solar, a U.S.-based solar manufacturer that argued that Chinese manufacturers were outsourcing production to those nations to avoid paying U.S. tariffs. These concerns are representative of a larger complaint by U.S. solar panel manufacturers that they are unable to compete with the lower costs of foreign solar equipment. 

A majority of solar panels installed in the U.S. are made in Southeast Asia, so industry advocates are concerned that potential tariffs will increase costs and lengthen the timelines of installations. The commerce department will release a preliminary declaration within 150 days.