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Solar easements in Florida

| May 15, 2021 | Real Estate Law |

According to the U.S. Energy and Information Administration, Florida’s solar photovoltaic and solar thermal energy accounted for nearly 4.6 million megawatthours. With a name like the Sunshine State, it’s no wonder solar panels have a high chance of producing electricity during peak hours.

Solar panels offer residential and commercial owners alike to participate in the green initiative to reduce carbon emissions in the face of climate change. But what happens if external factors like construction or landscaping impact an established solar system’s energy production? That is where solar easements come into play.

Defining solar easements

Easements are rights that owners have in relation to another owner’s property. For example, the natural gas company that supplies a neighborhood has a utility easement on the pipes underneath the houses and land. Homeowners must be aware of those pipes and those utility easements when performing any yardwork that involves deep digging — otherwise they may disrupt things.

Solar easements act in a similar way. But instead of a physical pipeline, the easements refer to the rights of certain solar angles over other pieces of property. Peak hours for a solar system are necessary for optimal production and if something in the lot next door blocks the system, the easement addresses that.

Establishing solar easements

According to the Florida Solar Energy Center, easements need to be in writing and must include specific vertical and horizontal angles as well as other pertinent zoning descriptions. Easements apply to established solar systems with written agreements. A property owner could not, for example, install a new solar system in the shade of a high rise and demand compensation from the high rise’s building owners.

Easements are useful for legal protection but may seem complicated, especially when they involve intangible aspects like sunlight and solar angles. But the right easement may protect a solar system from disruptive, external factors.