Mission statement

Who we are: A grass roots volunteer group of Plano citizens
Our Mission: To increase awareness and use of Solar Energy for electricity generation in Plano
This Blog: PlanoSolar.org - for articles, useful links, resources, surveys, how-tos
**** Check out our 1 minute video **** Solar Energy in Texas - Don't you wonder?

Monday, July 26, 2021

Host a small group science workshop using just a “little book”

Who doesn’t want to be a good steward of our planet and its resources? Who doesn’t want to ensure a safe, livable, and sustainable environment for our children, grandchildren, and future generations?

Not everyone has the time, interest, or inclination to invest lots of time doing a deep dive to study climate science. But most of us can probably invest an hour to hear and learn about the basics. Doing so could help more of us then understand the basics so that we can better trust those who have committed their careers to scientific processes and discovery.

Earlier in July, about 10 volunteers came together for a “Friendly Climate Science Educational Challenge” workshop. The main content of the workshop consisted of each of us taking turns reading out loud one chapter of the 10 chapters of the “Littlest Book on Climate – 10 Facts in 10 Minutes about CO2” (free e-version download available here - tenintenco2.com). Because each chapter only takes about 2-3 minutes to read out loud, this took about 30 minutes. We then discussed questions about the contents. And finally, we discussed ways to refine the process so that it could be repeated by others.

With a special thanks to all the participants from our July workshop, we have developed the following documents to help others hold their own little one-hour workshops to help further constructive adult education and conversations on this important topic. Using these two documents, interested persons should be able to host sessions with about 5-15 people. After each session, we encourage participants to complete a short online survey (the link is included in the handout) so that we can provide additional feedback to the little book authors.

The documents are available here:
  1. Friendly Climate Science Educational Challenge
  2. Friendly Climate Science Educational Challenge-Handout
Please let us know if you have questions or need assistance by using the comment section below. And freely share this information with others! Let’s keep the constructive conversations going!

Shine On!
Plano Solar Advocates

Monday, July 19, 2021

Energy Freedom update for Texas homeowners


Here’s an update on energy freedom for Texas homeowners’ right to install solar energy! This is information compiled from the Texas Solar Energy Society, the North Texas Renewable Energy Group, and Plano Solar Advocates 

(Update 7/28/21 - The Tyler City Council voted unanimously on Wednesday to ease solar panel regulations within the city.)

Topics:

  1. Recent state legislation relevant to updating restrictive municipal local solar ordinances
  2. Resources for municipal solar ordinance updates
  3. Resources and project idea for homeowners wanting to go solar

1. Recent state legislation relevant to updating restrictive municipal local solar ordinances

SB 398, effective Sept 1, 2021, passed in the Texas 87th regular legislative session

SB 398 provides a variety of consumer protections while also underscoring the importance of the competitive market. This legislation makes sure solar customers have information they need to make informed decisions and prohibits municipalities (in addition to homeowner association boards) from unreasonably restricting energy independence. These protections are hugely important for the rooftop solar market and will help to bring even more jobs and solar to Texas.

(from the Solar Energy Industries Association, www.seia.org/news/texas-governor-signs-series-pro-solar-bills-law)

Key clause from the SB 398:

“A municipality may not prohibit or restrict the installation of a solar energy device by a residential or small commercial customer except to the extent .. a property owner's association may prohibit the installation under Sections 202.010(d)(1) through (7), Property Code…”

Key clause from Section 202.010(d) of the property code:

“A property owners' association may include or enforce a provision in a dedicatory instrument that prohibits a solar energy device that .. is located in an area other than an area designated by the property owners' association, unless the alternate location increases the estimated annual energy production of the device, as determined by using a publicly available modeling tool provided by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, by more than 10 percent above the energy production of the device if located in an area designated by the property owners' association.”

In Texas, south facing solar PV panel installations provide maximum annual production. East/west installations provide approximately 80-85% of maximum, and north facing installations provide only about 50% of maximum. Therefore, any solar panel placement requirement that prevents placement for maximum production would not be allowed. 

See PVWatts Calculator at pvwatts.nrel.gov

2. Resources for municipal solar ordinance updates

Resources developed by the North Central Texas Council of Governments for the Texas State Energy Conservation Office are available at www.gosolartexas.org/address-solar-zoning-code-or-adopt-solar-ordinance. See “Model Ordinance Guidelines for Municipalities”

3. Resources and project idea for homeowners wanting to go solar

Group Purchase Idea

Solar United Neighbors (SUN) helps organize neighbors in an area or city into a group to go solar together – referred to as solar co-op. People love the community approach. SUN supports the co-op each stage of the solar process. Co-op members leverage bulk-purchasing power to get discounted pricing and a quality installation, while still signing individual contracts that ensure the right system for their home.

See www.solarunitedneighbors.org/texas/about-solar-united-neighbors-of-texas

Solar 101 – Texas Solar Energy Society, March 7, 2021

Check out this Solar 101 presentation from the Texas Solar Energy Society - youtu.be/JO2DkGXya_Q

We hope you find this information useful. Please share with others across Texas!

Shine On!
Plano Solar Advocates

Related stories from local channels in Tyler, Tx
July 16, 2021 – CBS19 - youtu.be/966v1MhvKqg
July 16, 2021 – KETK NBC - youtu.be/FLMVXZZkaFg
July 16, 2021 – ABC channel 9 - www.ktre.com/video/2021/07/19/tyler-solar-panel-ordinance/

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Plano Solar Co-op

Imagine walking into a solar company’s office with 50 or 100 of your neighbors and saying, “We all want to get solar. What kind of deal can you give us?”

Check it out and share with your friends that live in Plano!

Monday, April 6, 2020

Overcoming HOAs invoking the "nuisance clause"

It's been a number of years since our last post about HOAs trying to prevent YOU from installing solar PV on YOUR property. Texas statutes have been implemented in 2011 (HB-362) and updated in 2015 (SB-1626) to protect homeowners property rights regarding the installation of solar PV systems on your home.

However, in the last year or so, it seems that some HOAs have been increasingly trying to reject homeowner applications to install solar PV systems due to esoteric "nuisance" clause in the Texas Property Code Section 202.010(e).

In this blog post we provide a bit of background on the esoteric clause and a way to help homeowners planning to install solar PV on their homes overcome this potential roadblock.

The Texas Property Code Section 202.010(e) states:
A property owners' association or the association's architectural review committee may not withhold approval for installation of a solar energy device if the provisions of the dedicatory instruments to the extent authorized by Subsection (d) are met or exceeded, unless the association or committee, as applicable, determines in writing that placement of the device as proposed by the property owner constitutes a condition that substantially interferes with the use and enjoyment of land by causing unreasonable discomfort or annoyance to persons of ordinary sensibilities. For purposes of making a determination under this subsection, the written approval of the proposed placement of the device by all property owners of adjoining property constitutes prima facie evidence that such a condition does not exist.

With the help of Dan Lepinski, an advisor to the non-profit North Texas Renewable Energy Group, and longtime solar energy industry expert, the operative words in this clause are:

"..unless the association or committee, as applicable, determines in writing that placement of the device as proposed by the property owner constitutes a condition that substantially interferes with the use and enjoyment of land by causing unreasonable discomfort or annoyance to persons of ordinary sensibilities."

... with emphasis on "substantially interferes with the use and enjoyment of land by causing unreasonable discomfort or annoyance to persons of ordinary sensibilities."


Dan goes on to explain. Recall these facts:

1. PV systems have no moving parts, and thus are silent.
2. PV system don't emit any odors, and per their material safety data sheets, have no toxic substances, even if broken.
3. Any "glare" concerns can be dispelled with some complicated trig and a few hours' work.  

Regardless of these above facts, some recent attempts by HOAs to reject homeowners from installing solar PV systems on their own property have invoked the "nuisance" clause under the pretense they can apply a visual claim that they are "ugly" - hence aesthetics.

But as Dan goes on to explain in this "To Whom It May Concern" letter he provided, the mere fact that a person's use of their land is "abnormal and out of place in its surroundings" will not support a claim alleging a nuisance, as affirmed by the Texas Supreme Court. Dan has found that providing a copy of his "To Whom It May Concern" letter to an HOA using, or planning to use, the "nuisance" clause has been usually sufficient to have the HOA withdrawn the "nuisance" assertion and move forward with approving the installation.

We hope this information helps anyone overcome attempted rejection by their HOA for a solar PV installation based a potential "nuisance" claim.

Much thanks to Dan Lepinski for his efforts and expertise to research this issue and for graciously making his "To Whom It May Concern" letter available folks to use!

Shine On!
Plano Solar Advocates

Friday, October 4, 2019

TOMORROW IS THE DAY!

The 2019 DFW Solar Tour is a free, one-day event taking place this year on Saturday, October 5, 2019, from 10 am to 4 pm. The general public is invited to visit select innovative homes and buildings throughout the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex.

Over the past ten years, thousands of visitors have toured homes, schools, libraries and other energy efficient sustainable buildings across the Metroplex, from Allen to Weatherford, Denton to Cedar Hill, and all the way out to a rural off-grid home near Azle. Tour visitors from as far away as Houston, El Paso and Hot Springs Arkansas come to see what forward-thinking people in North Texas are doing to build a self-sufficient, renewable sustainable future.
 
The DFW Solar Tour enables people to learn how their neighbors – homeowners and businesses alike – are using solar energy, wind energy, energy efficiency, and other sustainable technologies to save money and reduce consumption of natural resources. The strategies and techniques on display during this year’s tour range from things as simple and easy as changing to LED light bulbs and selecting more efficient appliances, to cutting-edge, ultra-efficient eco-homes and businesses that are generating as much or more energy than they consume!

The DFW Solar Tour is organized by the non-profit 501(c)(3), all volunteer-based North Texas Renewable Energy Group, Inc in cooperation with the Texas Solar Energy Society and the American Solar Energy Society National Solar Tour.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Home Solar Scams and Red Flags

Solar scams are like these red flags

Home Solar Scams and Red Flags
Check out this recent article. "Scammers, fraudsters, and jerks peddling misleading information are everywhere. Unfortunately, they are also in the solar industry. We'll make sure you can see the red flags, and empower you to make smart decisions about solar for your home."

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Solar United Neighbors of Texas

Wow – It’s hard to believe that it has been over 5 years since we did our Solarize Plano Projects! And now we would like to let you know that “group” purchase programs can happen again in Plano with Solar UnitedNeighbors of Texas.

When organizing our “solarize” group purchase projects back in 2013 and 2014, our volunteers reached out to other volunteer groups across the country to get ideas and learn from their experiences. One of those groups at the time was called Community Power Network. We spoke with their founders and learned a lot about their experiences – what worked well and potential problem areas. Since that time, that volunteer group has expanded into a national non-profit called Solar United Neighbors, spreading solar ownership opportunity through hundreds of group purchase projects across many states. We called our group purchase projects “solarize” projects, they call their group purchase projects “solar co-ops”. They are the same!

We would like to encourage residents interested in participating in a group project to purchase installed solar to reach out to this organization to request a solar co-op project here in Plano. To do this, send an email with the subject “Please start a solar co-op in Plano” and include your name and contact information in the email to info@solarunitedneighbors.org 

To learn more about Solar United Neighbors, check out this recent Freeing Energy podcast titled, Episode #117 Anya Schoolman: Can wechange the future of energy one neighborhood at a time?