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Crown Harbor Homeowner Association

Solar Panels

The Board is working on a legally acceptable plan as well as how to incorporate it into the roof replacement project.

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Solar/Wind Power from Alameda Municipal Power

Although Alameda Green is an option for Crown Harbor Owners and residents, and Crown Harbor does not have many southern-facing exposures, there is interest in the installation of solar panels.
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Associa Info

Solar Regulations

To date Crown Harbor has received the following information from Associa Northern California regarding solar panels and homeowner associations.
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Current Legal Hurdles

In 2014 when Crown Harbor was working with the City of Alameda on its Power and Lighting, the Board looked into the possibility of installing solar panels as part of a federally subsidized program. Crown Harbor was basically shut down by the Alameda Municipal Power (AMP) Company.
  • Solar panels can only be tied to the grid by way of a valid, existing meter.
  • The owner of the property and the owner of the meter must be one and the same.
  • The solar panel set can only be sized to be equal or less than the historical drain of that specific meter.
  • The power generated is applied against and offsets part of the drain on that specific meter.
  • Any extra power generated in a given period is paid by a credit to the bill of that specific meter.
Given that, the answer from the City was:
  • The roofs are common property of the Association. The Association owns the roofs.
  • If solar panels are put on the roofs, only the Association power meter can be credited for the power generated.
  • The Association has 3 meters; The Association would have to pick one, and the panels would have to be connected through that meter.
  • The Association could only put up enough panels to generate an estimated amount of power equal to the drain on whatever meter was chosen. This precludes the idea of 'selling power' to the power company and putting the money in the community fund. The Association closed 2014 with a total electrical cost of $4,196 across the 3 meters. The Treasurer doesn't have Association electricity costs the split by meter, but that is about $500 below budget. This savings is, in part due to changing to LED lighting through the complex; a project that just finished in September.
So there are legal issues that must be sorted out where Owner-owned solar panels are placed on Association-owned roofs. In summary:
  • The Association owns and maintains the roof.
  • Crown Harbor has the case where an upstairs and a downstairs Unit share a common roof. Even side by side units share a common supporting roof structure.
  • The Unit Owner owns and maintains the solar panels. The Owner is responsible for any damage to the roof that happens during the installation and/or removal of the panels.
  • The solar panels are connected to the electrical meter for the Owner's Unit. The current Alameda Municipal Power language associated with connecting panels to meters states that the meter owner must also own the roof.
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fidelityroof.com

Information Resource

Crown Harbor residents, Scott Whidden and Nini Curry, have a connection to Chip Upshaw — his family's third generation Oakland business is Fidelity Roofing. Chip (chip@fidelityroof.com) is a expert in solar. He is an all-around nice guy and his family is a longtime upstanding part of the Oakland/Piedmont community. Solar is Chip's passion. Chip Upshaw visited Crown Harbor for a site survey.
  • Only about 50% of the roof surface can accommodate a system as a 3 ft setback needs to be allowed for against any hard edge.
  • Though it varies by usage, the 30% tax credit for solar system purchase is a great financial incentive.
  • Solar is a good move for the environment — reducing our carbon footprint.
  • The numbers for the cost of the system compared to perceived value in terms of increased resale value of our home(s) is also a good to note.
  • Chip uses an LG grid — not the panels that you may be used to seeing.
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gosolarcalifornia.ca.gov

Federal Tax Credit for Solar Energy — Updated for Tax Year 2014

To encourage Americans to use solar power, the EPA and the Department of Energy offer tax credits for solar-powered systems. Tapping the sun for power just feels good — solar power doesn't pollute, reduces our use of coal and other fossil fuels, and thereby helps reduce your individual carbon footprint. But it's also five times as expensive as electricity from coal and other sources. To encourage Americans to use solar power, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy run the Energy Star program, which, among other projects, offers tax credits for solar-powered systems.

Credits for approved solar installations

If you install Energy Star-approved solar-power systems before the end of 2016, you can claim 30 percent of the cost as a tax credit for the year you installed it. As a credit, you take the amount directly off your tax payment, rather than as a deduction from your taxable income. You can claim the credit for your primary residence, a vacation home, and for either an existing structure or new construction. Other than the cost of the system, there's no limit to the dollar amount of the credit.

Claiming solar credits for rental property

You can't claim a credit for installing solar power at rental properties you own. The exception is if you also live in the house for part of the year, and use it as a rental when you're away. You'll have to reduce the credit for a vacation home, rental or otherwise, to reflect the time you're not there. If you live there for three months a year, for instance, you can only claim 25 percent of the credit: If the system cost is $10,000, the 30 percent credit would be $3,000, and you could claim a quarter of that, or $750.

Filing requirements for solar credits

To claim the credit, you must file IRS Form 5695 as part of your tax return; you calculate the credit on the form, and then enter the result on your 1040. If you end up with a bigger credit than you have income tax due — a $3,000 credit on a $2,500 tax bill, for instance — you can't use the credit to get money back from the IRS. Instead, you can carry the credit over to the following tax year. Energy Star states that you should be able to carry the credit over as far as 2016 if need be.

More information is available at www.gosolarcalifornia.ca.

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Buy or Lease?

Solar systems can be purchased or leased.

  • Purchased
    • When purchasing equipment, it can take many years to recover the cost. See example for 1305 Crown Drive.
    • The maximum allowable credit that can be generated is equal to the amount of electricity consumed, so making a profit by generating (and selling back) more electricity than what is consumed is not allowed.
    • The owner is responsible for all of the maintenance of the equipment.
    • Property tax rules in California do not allow the city to increase assessed value when solar is added, but it usually increases the sales value of the unit.
  • Leased via a Purchase Power Agreement
    • Solar equipment can be obtained with little or no down payment if the unit owner agrees to enter a "purchase power agreement" for a long period of time. For example: $0 down and $0.18 per kWh for 20 years.
    • When entering into a 20-year lease for solar equipment, when selling a Crown Harbor unit, the prospective buyer would need to agree to continue the lease.
    • The solar company handles all of the maintenance of the equipment.

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