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Incentives/Policies for Renewables & Efficiency

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Solar Easements & Rights Laws   

Last DSIRE Review: 10/17/2014
Program Overview:
State: Maryland
Incentive Type: Solar/Wind Access Policy
Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies: Passive Solar Space Heat, Solar Water Heat, Solar Space Heat, Photovoltaics, Solar Pool Heating
Applicable Sectors: Commercial, Industrial, Residential, Nonprofit, Local Government, Construction, State Government, Fed. Government, Agricultural
Authority 1:
Date Effective:
Md Code: Real Property § 2-119
07/01/1980 (subsequently amended)
Authority 2:
Md Code: Real Property § 2-118

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.

  Public Information Officer - MEA
Maryland Energy Administration
60 West Street, 3rd Floor
Annapolis, MD 21401
Phone: (410) 260-7655
Phone 2: (800) 723-6374
Web Site:
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Disclaimer: The information presented on the DSIRE web site provides an unofficial overview of financial incentives and other policies. It does not constitute professional tax advice or other professional financial guidance, and it should not be used as the only source of information when making purchasing decisions, investment decisions or tax decisions, or when executing other binding agreements. Please refer to the individual contact provided below each summary to verify that a specific financial incentive or other policy applies to your project.

While the DSIRE staff strives to provide the best information possible, the DSIRE staff, the N.C. Solar Center, N.C. State University and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. make no representations or warranties, either express or implied, concerning the accuracy, completeness, reliability or suitability of the information. The DSIRE staff, the N.C. Solar Center, N.C. State University and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. disclaim all liability of any kind arising out of your use or misuse of the information contained or referenced on DSIRE Web pages.

Copyright 2014 - 2015 North Carolina State University, under NREL Subcontract No. XEU-0-99515-01. Permission granted only for personal or educational use, or for use by or on behalf of the U.S. government. North Carolina State University prohibits the unauthorized display, reproduction, sale, and/or distribution of all or portions of the content of the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) without prior, written consent.