Monday, May 3, 2010

If they want my clothesline, they'll have to pry it from my cold, dead fingers!

A judge ruled last week that a homeowners group in Canton could not prohibit a resident from installing solar panels: The association had declared the panels “aesthetically incompatible” with the rest of the neighborhood.

Some people think wind turbines wreck their view. Some bring that argument down to the residential scale, opposing energy conserving devices like solar panels and clotheslines.In fact, there’s a whole organization dedicated to passing laws protecting the “right to dry” on clotheslines!  (apparently Florida has the ‘gold standard’ Right to Dry law)

We’ll see lots more of these clashes in coming years as renewable energy and efficiency technology become more affordable for homeowners and small businesses. And as fossil fuel rates rise, drying clothes in the sun like your grandmommy did will seem less quaint and more necessary.

It’s important to make your voice heard at your association meetings, with your elected officials,and at the neighborhood coffee shop (smoke-free as of Saturday!). That is, of course, if you think that public health and energy independence are more important than cookie-cutter conformity.

Yes, if they want my clothesline, they’ll have to pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

As an aside, the Canton homeowner installed solar panels to heat his hot water. The economic calculus for this – as opposed to using solar power to create electricity – is much different. This analysis Michigan energy expert John Richter explains how heating water with solar panels in Michigan can be very cost effective, especially if you are replacing a system that heats your water with propane or electricity


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