Under Utah’s solar rights law, enacted in 2017, community association governing documents other than declarations and association rules may not prohibit or restrict owners of detached dwellings from installing solar energy systems. The solar rights law does not apply to dwellings where the association has an ownership interest in the roof or to express prohibitions or restrictions on solar energy systems recorded in declarations of created by official association action before January 1, 2017.
An association declaration may prohibit the installation of solar energy systems. Declarations, as well as association rules, may impose a restriction based on system size, location, and placement on owners of lots with detached dwellings from installing solar energy systems if the restriction (1) decreases the solar energy system’s production by 5% or less and (2) increases the solar energy system’s cost of installation by 5% or less.
Declarations and association rules may require solar energy systems to meet healthy, safety, building, and performance standards. Associations may also require roof-mounted systems to not extend above the roof line or to use a color or texture similar to the roofing material for the panel frame support bracket, or visible piping or wiring. For ground-mounted systems, associations may require that the system not be visible from the street.
If a declaration does not expressly prohibit the installation of solar energy systems, the association may not amend the declaration to impose a prohibition unless the association approves the prohibition by a vote of more than 67% of the allocated voting interests. Associations may amend existing declarations including prohibitions on solar energy installations if a vote of more than 67% of voting interests is achieved.
If litigation occurs to enforce these rules, the court may award the prevailing party an amount equal to its costs and reasonable attorney fees.
State law also stipulates that local zoning authorities may adopt regulations that mandate solar access and specifically grants governing bodies the right to refuse any plat or subdivision plan if deed restrictions, covenants, or other agreements running with the land prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting reasonably sited and designed solar collectors or other renewable resource devices, including clotheslines.