Going Solar, Part Four: Snags and Glitches … Overcome

Going Solar, Part Four: Snags and Glitches … Overcome

The dreaded HOA

Ten days ago, nearly two months since I embarked on this adventure, I was ready to throw in the towel. For the first time, I wanted to cancel the whole thing.

I received and signed the loan application provided by the nice credit union. I read that it included their right to put a lien on the “property” which I figured meant the solar panels I was financing. I had made clear to the solar salesperson that I did not want to see a lien on my house, and he assured me there would only be a UCC contractor’s lien on the panels, not the house. A closer read of the agreement (right after I signed it, duh) seems to define the “property” as my house! A frantic email to my sales rep remains unanswered ten days later. Fortunately, if worst comes to worst, I’m prepared to pay off the loan at any time. The $1500 fee (points) will hurt if payoff happens any time soon.

[The final loan paperwork, which I received after installation, clarified the lien is a standard contractor’s lien, only on the solar equipment, not on my house. I guess it makes a difference. The wording on the first document was unclear.]

As push was coming to shove, my HOA was giving me the silent treatment on my application, which had been filed more than a month earlier. Without their approval, I thought, I might have to delay installation until next year, losing 15% of my tax credit. Suddenly I faced the prospect of paying $5000 more in taxes for 2020, and a reduced rebate in 2021. I also contemplated attorney’s fees if I decided I needed some professional help with my burgeoning issues.

I had foreseen difficulties with my HOA but my solar rep had promised to give them everything they needed. That, I realized, was a bit short of promising to take care of the HOA on my behalf. For their part, the HOA claimed they could speak only to me about the matter, not my authorized rep at the solar contractor. The salesperson didn’t return my emailed pleas for help. In fact, I don’t think I’ve heard a peep from him since I signed the sales contract, but what did I expect?

I contacted the Nevada Energy Commission, who enforce the state laws on solar panels. I heard right back from them, that they could help me only after my application had been declined by the HOA. There was nothing they could do if the HOA simply ignored me. Catch-22!

Fortunately, other staff at the solar contractor sensed my panic as we talked about scheduling the installation. They called the HOA and extracted a promise to make a decision “by the end of the day.”

Meanwhile, I took a close look at the CCRs (rules and regulations of my HOA) and saw that they promised a decision within 30 days on any application. If they didn’t respond within 30 days I could assume my application was approved. This would give me some leverage, at least.

That “end of the day” went by and two days more but I finally got the approval letter from the HOA. Things are back on track for a mid-December installation.

Next: Panels On!

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