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On February 16, 2012, Representative Karla Drenner (Avondale),
along with 5 other legislators, introduced HB961 the Solar Homeowners Bill of Rights, which essentially prohibits neighborhood associations from infringing on an owner’s right to install solar panels on their rooftop. The bill might be seen by some as an attempt by the state to impose their will on small communities, but really it is quite the opposite.  HB961 stands up for private property rights, individual liberties and free market competition. If we want to have lower energy prices, supply must increase. Here are a few of the reasons why you need to tell your legislator to vote for HB961 on Monday.

Real Estate Values Increase. According to a joint study conducted by 5 independent technology and energy organizations with data which included over 72,000 homes, on average, Solar Panels adds $ 17,000 to the value of a home, with existing homes averaging a higher premium per watt, than new construction.    Weblink: http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/emp/reports/lbnl-4476e.pdf

Protecting Private Property Rights.This is not about adding additional regulations or state government “imposing” new laws on homeowners associations. This bill is about protecting private property rights, protecting the individuals’ right to choose how he gets his energy.

Marketplace competition. Its about choice. Choice in energy providers, whether it comes from your local utility or from your rooftop. We’ve all seen energy prices rising for oil, nuclear and coal, yet the price of solar has been falling consistently for the past five years.  How can a group of individuals deny me a right to protect my family against the 100% likelihood of rising energy prices?

Lower prices and cleaner air. This bill is also about supply and demand. If more homeowners are allowed to install solar, there will be more supply. More supply means two things to real Georgians: It means that at 2pm on a hot august afternoon when my Air Conditioner is cranking, my utility company is not going to have to fire up their cancer-causing oil burners to meet peak energy demand and we will have less code orange smog alerts.  It also means that with more supply, the price goes down.

Creating jobs. HB 961 is also about jobs and creating a more “business friendly” environment in Georgia. Many would-be solar homeowners simply do not want to risk the uncertainty or possible litigation from their association, therefore do not even attempt to reach out to a local installer for a quote. The few that do, undertake significant financial risk.  Georgia solar installers have consistently had to look outside of the state to stay in business.

Generating state revenues.  The cost of this bill is zero, yet last year, because of the state tax credit (which has since been increased) approximately 6 million in solar projects were built, resulting in a direct increase in sales tax revenues of nearly $400,000.  Encouraging more projects like these, increases tax revenues and keeping small businesses employed results in higher payroll taxes and lower unemployment costs.