Utility Watchdog in San Diego

The Energy Policy Initiatives Center (EPIC) has conducted a review of the Solar Rights Act and the Solar Shade Control Act in anticipation of increased demand for solar energy in the near future.

The Solar Shade Control Act grants certain protections to owners of solar collectors. Solar collectors that are blocked by the shade of a neighbor's tree or shrub may be protected under the Shade Act. The solar owner must be able to answer "Yes" to the following questions:   

  • Does the neighboring tree or shrub shade more than 10% of the solar collector between 10 am and 2 pm local standard time?
  • Was the tree or shrub in question planted, or did the tree or shrub in question grow to shade the solar collector, after the solar collector's installation?
  • Did the tree or shrub in question begin to cast a shadow on the solar collector one year after the solar collector's installation?
  • Was the tree or shrub in question planted after January 1, 2013?
  • Was the solar collector installed pursuant to the Section 25982 setback requirements?
  • Does the solar collector meet the statutory definition of a "solar collector" provided in Section 25981?

There may be no violation of the Shade Act on the part of the tree or shrub owner if any of the following questions can be answered "No":

  • Does the tree or shrub shade more than 10% of the solar collector between 10 am and 2pm local standard time?
  • Do you own or lease the property on which the tree or shrub is located?
  • Was the tree or shrub in question was planted after January 1, 2013?

In addition to the questions above, the tree owner may not be in violation of the Shade act if any of the following questions can be answered "Yes":

  • During the 12 months following installation of the solar collector, did the tree or shrub in question cast a shadow on the solar collector?
  • Is the tree or shrub in question owned by a municipality that has passed an ordinance exempting itself from the Act?
  • Is the tree or shrub in question growing on land designated as timberland or agricultural land?
  • Are the trees or shrubs in question part of a passive cooling and heating strategy in which net energy savings from the passive solar system are demonstrably greater than those of the shaded solar collector?