Emerging Issues Between the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act and the Solar Rights Act

With the growing installation of solar photovoltaic systems in California, more homeowner’s associations (HOAs) are using a specific provision of the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act (DSA) (Civil Code Section 4000 et seq.) to regulate the installation of rooftop solar on common area roofs of multi-family common interest developments (apartment, condo complexes, etc.).  The DSA defines the form of organization and ownership interest in community apartment projects, condominium projects, planned developments, and stock cooperatives. A specific provision of the DSA governs the restrictions on ownership and transfers of exclusive use of any portion of a common area to a member for the installation of a rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) or solar thermal system.

This post will explain the relevant provisions of the DSA and Solar Rights Act (SRA) to frame this residential real estate issue. It will focus on use of statutory ownership rights and transfer of interest between the board of the association that oversees uses in common areas and an individual separate property owner that seeks to install a rooftop solar PV or solar thermal energy system on a common area rooftop. The discussion is limited to built or future residential common interest developments, as defined by Civil Code Section 4100, and excludes both the Subdivided Lands Act (Business and Professions Code Section 11000 et seq.) and Commercial and Industrial Common Interest Development Act (Civil Code Section 6500-6876). Continue reading

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GHG Emissions Reporting in the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) Energy Imbalance Market (EIM)

On Monday, the CAISO hosted a call to review the Draft GHG Emission Tracking Report and methodology paper that explains the draft’s preliminary results.  The report shows estimated GHG emissions for dispatch of internal CAISO resources, net imports (including dynamic resources that are an interchange schedule energy transfer between the CAISO and an outside balancing authority area (BAA) or EIM BAA and another BAA if in the real-time market), and transfers from western EIM entities into the CAISO BAA.  This post will discuss these documents to frame the value and limits of this type of reporting by the CAISO. Continue reading

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AB 1110: GHG Emission Intensity Reporting for Electricity, Causation, and the Problem of Electricity from Unspecified Power

The issue of accurately attributing greenhouse gases (GHG) to the load that caused the emission remains a difficult issue for GHG accounting.  We previously posted about causation as the basis for attributing GHG emissions from electricity. In this post, we will discuss the issues around accurately attributing GHG emissions using a locally-relevant emission factor and California’s recently passed GHG emission intensity reporting requirement under AB 1110 (Statutes 2016, Chapter 656).

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SB 32 and AB 197: Future GHG Reduction Targets and Oversight

The Legislature enrolled SB 32 and AB 197 on August 25, 2016.  These bills create both the future target that will govern GHG emission reduction programs and a higher level of legislative oversight over the California Air Resources Board (CARB).  These bills must both become law for either to take effect next January and are expected to be signed by Governor Brown in the near term.  This post will examine these bills to provide the reader with an overview of the where California is and intends to move in the future.

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Tracking GHG Emissions in a Regional ISO: California Stands Alone in the West

When the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) released its original Proposed Principles of Governance for a regional independent system operator (ISO), it included a proposal for the development of a methodology to track and account for emissions that are attributable to California load and resources located in California and out-of state resources serving California load.  I previously wrote about this document to provide an overview and background information.  The revised Proposed Principles of Governance omitted Principle 2 regarding Greenhouse Gas (GHG) accounting but emphasized that such a system remains a priority for the CAISO and necessary piece to an expanded regional ISO.

Specifically, the second bullet of the original proposed Principle 2 stated:

“To accommodate a regional balancing authority area spanning multiple states, the ISO will need to develop a transparent methodology for tracking and accounting for greenhouse gas emissions, which must include a means to identify such emissions that are attributable to California load and resources located in California and out-of-state resources serving California load.”

I will examine exactly what that could entail and lay out some of the issues of creating a system in a multi-state ISO where no other potential participating state regulates GHGs.

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Does Your Rooftop Solar System Reduce Your Carbon Footprint? It Depends…

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At first glance this is a pretty straight forward issue. If you put solar modules on your home or business, you are generating clean, emissions-free electricity. Right? Well, it depends…in part on how you paid for your system. If you bought it either with cash or with your own source of financing, you can claim that your electricity is clean. If you worked with a third party to install solar as part of a power purchase agreement (PPA) or leasing arrangement, it is likely that you don’t have a claim to the “cleanness” and “greenness” associated with your electricity.

This not only has implications for greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting for individual residents or businesses but also California counties and cities that are trying to estimate how a large uptick in distributed solar projects in the last couple years affects their climate action plan. For that matter, it also could affect how California estimates the effects of distributed solar on statewide GHG emissions.

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Federal Housing Administration Issues Guidance on Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), part of the executive branch’s Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), recently issued guidance on PACE financing programs (read the full press release here).  The FHA provides mortgage insurance on loans made by FHA-approved lenders that meet specific qualifications for single family and multifamily homes and hospitals.  FHA insurance provides lenders with protection from losses resulting from a property owner defaulting on their mortgage. PACE financing uses voluntary special tax assessments to secure financing for improvements on residential and commercial properties, such as energy or water efficiency improvements or solar panels. PACE assessments are repaid through the property tax bill using the same collection mechanism as other special tax assessments (generally seen as a line item on your property tax bill).

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