Last Updated May 29, 2020
Solar/Wind Access Policy
Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies:
Oregon has several laws that protect access to solar and wind resources and the use of solar energy systems. Oregon's solar access laws date back to 1979 and state that no person conveying or contracting to convey a property title can include provisions that prohibit the use of solar energy systems on the property. Any provisions that prohibit the use of solar energy systems are void and unenforceable. Solar energy systems are defined broadly to include anything that uses solar radiation for heating, cooling, or electrical energy. In June 2011, this law was expanded upon with the passage of HB 3516. This legislation clarifies that in zones where residential and commercial structures are allowed uses, solar photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal systems are explicitly allowed as a permitted use. The law was further expanded in 2017 with the passage of HB 2111. The legislation voids any provisions, declarations, or bylaws of a planned community which prohibit installation and use of solar panels.
Oregon's solar and wind easements provisions allow property owners to create solar and wind easements for the purpose of protecting and maintaining proper access to sunlight and wind. Easements are negotiated with neighboring property owners. Oregon's solar easement law was enacted in 1979; the wind easement law was enacted in 1981.
Oregon state law also allows municipalities and local authorities to establish solar access laws. Access laws are intended to protect solar access to the south face of buildings during solar heating hours, taking into account existing development, vegetation, and planned uses. The local ordinances may include standards for orientation of new streets and lots, placement and height of new buildings, and the placement of new trees on public property. City and county laws are generally designed to protect south-facing roof space for active solar energy systems such as solar electric and solar hot water panels, as opposed to daylighting and passive solar heating that require southern exposure to a building's wall.