Solar Easements & Rights Laws (Maryland)

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Last modified on February 12, 2015.

Rules Regulations Policies Program

Place Maryland

Name Solar Easements and Rights Laws
Incentive Type Solar/Wind Access Policy
Applicable Sector Agricultural, Commercial, Construction, Fed. Government, Industrial, Local Government, Nonprofit, Residential, State Government
Eligible Technologies Passive Solar Space Heat, Photovoltaics, Solar Pool Heating, Solar Space Heat, Solar Water Heat
Active Incentive Yes

Implementing Sector State/Territory
Energy Category Renewable Energy Incentive Programs














































Date added to DSIRE 2000-01-01
Last DSIRE Review 2013-02-08
Last Substantive Modification
to Summary by DSIRE
2010-04-10


References DSIRE[1]


Summary

Maryland has a long-standing law protecting the rights of solar energy system owners. The original law prohibited restrictive land use covenants that imposed unreasonable limitations on the installation of solar collection panels on the roof or exterior walls of improvements and which became effective after July 1, 1980. (The grandfathering date was removed in 2008). This statute and its 2008 amendments do not apply to a restrictive covenant on historic property that is listed by the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties or by the Maryland Register of Historic Properties.* Maryland also provides for the creation of easement agreements for a variety of purposes, including the "preservation of exposure of solar energy devices." While similar provisions exist as standalone laws in some states, in Maryland they are included under the more general heading of conservation easements.

The Maryland Real Property Code was amended in April 2008 by H.B. 117 to provide much more detailed protections for solar energy systems and to expand upon the required content of solar easement agreements. Under the new law (effective October 1, 2008) restrictions on use that act to significantly increase the cost of a solar collector system or significantly decrease its efficiency are prohibited. The definition of "restrictions on use" includes any covenant, restriction, or condition contained in a deed; declaration; contract; bylaws of a homeowners or condominium association; security instrument; and any other instrument affecting the transfer or sale of real property or interest in real property. The only condition for this protection is that the owner own or have rights for the exclusive use of the roof or exterior walls of a structure.

In addition to the added detail, other notable changes to the law are: (1) the removal of the July 1, 1980 grandfathering date for existing restrictive covenants; and (2) the replacement of the term "solar collection panels" with "solar collector systems". Solar collection systems are defined to include solar devices primarily used to collect, store, and distribute solar energy for electricity generation, space heating, space cooling, and water heating. This definition appears to include technologies such as passive solar space heating and solar pool heating.

Under H.B. 117, the right of property owners to enter into solar easement agreements is affirmed. Written instruments for this purpose are required to contain a description of the dimensions of the easement (e.g., vertical and horizontal angles), restrictions on potential impairments (e.g., vegetation, structures, etc.), and terms for revision or termination.


* While this law does not apply to historic properties, at least one local jurisdiction -- the Howard County Historic District Commission -- has developed guidelines for solar installations in historic districts.


Incentive Contact

Contact Name Public Information Officer - MEA
Department Maryland Energy Administration

Address 60 West Street, 3rd Floor

Place Annapolis, Maryland
Zip/Postal Code 21401
Phone (410) 260-7655
Phone 2 (800) 723-6374

Email meainfo@energy.state.md.us
Website http://www.energy.state.md.us
     
     

Authorities (Please contact the if there are any file problems.)

Authority 1: Md Code: Real Property § 2-119
Date Effective 07/01/1980 (subsequently amended)



Authority 2: Md Code: Real Property § 2-118



















  • Incentive and policy data are reviewed and approved by the N.C. Solar Center's DSIRE project staff.[1]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1  "Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE)"