Public radio from Western Michigan University 102.1 NPR News | 89.9 Classical WMUK
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Michigan HOAs can't stop residents from going solar under a new law

Rick stands in front of his light gray home with white trimming. He wears a dark gray polo and blue jeans. His arms are crossed as he looks to the upper right of the image. To his right can be seen green and purple bushes with almost feathery leaves.
Michael Symonds
In both the House and the Senate, the bill passed along party lines, with Republicans in opposition.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the law on Monday and for one Portage resident, it’s a turning point in a nearly four-year-long quest.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the Homeowners’ Energy Policy Act into law on Monday. The new law nullifies homeowner association bans on solar panels along with some other energy-saving improvements.

This was great news for Rick Freiman of Portage, who planned to install solar panels on his roof in 2020. His homeowner association stopped him, claiming the panels would not fit the neighborhood’s aesthetics.

In response, Freiman reached out to state House of Representatives and Senate members, asking them to push for and support legislation aimed at fixing this problem.

In September of last year, a bill was introduced to the state House and Freiman's local representative, Democrat Christine Morse of the 40th state House district, co-sponsored it.

Freiman said he's proud to know that his pleas did not fall on deaf ears.

“To think that you can actually talk to your representatives and possibly get a law passed is amazing.”  

Freiman said he’ll now be moving forward with his solar project. He said going solar would reduce his electricity bill, but that's not the only reason he wants to pursue clean energy.

“I do have another motive, and that is just the ethical idea of protecting the environment from putting more carbon dioxide in the air.”

Republican Representative Andrew Fink of Hillsdale County voted against the bill.

He said it amounts to government overreach and added that the housing market would benefit from less stringent regulation.

“I'm not saying it's going to be a major impact, but honestly, I think this is yet another step in the wrong direction when it comes to getting more housing online. What I'd like to see is us to liberate the housing market.”

Freiman’s HOA, the Moors of Portage Association, did not respond to a request for comment.

Michael Symonds reports for WMUK through the Report for America national service program.

Report for America national service program corps member Michael Symonds joined WMUK’s staff in 2023. He covers the “rural meets metro” beat, reporting stories that link seemingly disparate parts of Southwest Michigan.