Below you can find links to source documents as a resource for homeowners, HOA board members, and solar installers in Dane County. The information is organized into sections:
Most of the communities and neighborhoods in Dane County do not have HOA covenant language that restricts solar installations. A significant minority of the neighborhoods with HOAs do, however, include specific language about solar energy systems.
Dane County HOA Covenants are filed with the Dane County Register of Deeds. You can look up specific HOA covenants by plat name online.
Office of Energy & Climate Change staff reviewed the covenants in Dane County for language about solar energy systems. We categorized the information we found into six categories, based on the language in the covenant:
In total, the most restrictive language (categories 4-6) affects almost 13,000 housing units in Dane County. Category 3 includes another 17,000 units.
If you want to learn more about the HOA covenants in your area, you can search the archive of Dane County HOA Covenants from the Register of Deeds. In addition, see below for a map of current restrictions in Dane County.
Use the map and read more about HOAs with solar restrictions in Dane County.
Map and article by Chris Hubbuch
Several Wisconsin laws address a homeowner’s right to install a solar energy systems.
The text of both statutes is included below.
No political subdivision may place any restriction, either directly or in effect, on the installation or use of a wind energy system that is more restrictive than the rules promulgated by the commission under s. 196.378 (4g) (b). No political subdivision may place any restriction, either directly or in effect, on the installation or use of a solar energy system, as defined in s. 13.48 (2) (h) 1. g., or a wind energy system, unless the restriction satisfies one of the following conditions:
(a) Serves to preserve or protect the public health or safety.
(b) Does not significantly increase the cost of the system or significantly decrease its efficiency.
(c) Allows for an alternative system of comparable cost and efficiency.
All restrictions on platted land that prevent or unduly restrict the construction and operation of solar energy systems, as defined in s. 13.48 (2) (h) 1. g., or a wind energy system, as defined in s. 66.0403 (1) (m), are void.
The Office of Energy & Climate Change cannot offer legal advice to HOAs, solar installers or homeowners.
To better understand these statutes we suggest the following resources:
Ensuring that all parties--solar installers, homeowners and HOA Boards--understand the existing state statutes can reduce confusion and expedite solar installations.
The Office of Energy & Climate Change also encourages local municipalities to be familiar with Wisconsin statutes on solar energy installations. Local municipalities have an opportunity to review a developer's proposed covenant language when approving a new residential subdivision.
• Install a renewable energy system on your home or property, or
• Purchase green power from your electric utility.
When consumers install renewable energy they typically install solar electric (photovoltaic) systems. A wind turbine might also be an option if you are in a rural setting in Dane County.
The local MadiSUN program helps consumers determine if solar energy will work on their home, offering a group-buy discount on systems. There are also multiple private solar installers active in Dane County. See a list of vendors from the Solar Energy Industries Association. In addition, the Midwest Renewable Energy Association's annual Energy Fair is a great opportunity to talk to installers and learn about renewable energy technologies.
Like most states, Wisconsin has laws that protect a household’s right to install a solar energy system on their property. Under state statute municipalities can require a homeowner to secure a permit for the solar installation and homeowner’s associations can set design guidelines for solar installations, provided these do not “prevent or unduly restrict the construction and operation of solar energy systems.” Learn more.
Typically when a homeowner installs a solar electric system the house remains connected to the local electric grid. During some sunny hours during the day, the solar array might produce more power than the home uses—in that case excess power is exported back to the local grid and the utility gives the customer credit for this power. Then, at night, when the solar array is not producing power, the house will use power from the grid. The specifics of net metering arrangements vary from utility to utility; your solar installer can help you to size your solar array to optimize the benefits for your household given the net metering policies of your local electric utility.
Focus on Energy offers information and incentives for solar energy projects.
Additionally, some households may qualify for federal tax credits on their solar installation. The Department of Energy maintains a guide to solar tax credits for homeowners.
Additionally, you can typically opt to purchase green power from your utility for a small premium. This option works well for people in apartments or with homes that are not suitable for solar. Learn more about your utility's green power offerings:
In our Climate Action Plan we set a goal of 1200 MW of solar installed in Dane County by 2030. Whether you install a system on your own house or buy green power from your utility, you are helping us achieve this important goal.