Last Updated November 3, 2023
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. The legislation voids any provisions, declarations, or bylaws of a planned community which prohibit installation and use of solar panels.
Oregon's solar easement law was enacted in 1979; the wind easement law was enacted in 1981.
Prohibition against installation of solar panels are void and unenforceable. However, a homeowners association may adopt and enforce a provision that imposes reasonable size, placement or aesthetic requirements for the installation or use of solar panels
Requirements For Creation:
- A legal description of the real property benefited and burdened by the easement; and a description of the solar energy easement sufficient to determine the space over the burdened property which must remain unobstructed by means that shall include, but not be limited to: a sun chart showing the plotted skyline, including vegetation and structures from the perspective of the center of the lower edge of the collector surface, and a drawing showing the size and location of the collector surface being protected and its orientation with respect to true south; or a description of the solar envelope sufficient to determine the space over the burdened property that must remain unobstructed.
- The instrument creating a solar energy easement or any other access right to sunlight shall be recordable under ORS 93.710. The instrument shall be recorded in the chains of title of the benefited and burdened properties as a transfer of the easement or access right from the owner of the burdened property to the owner of the benefited property.
- When an instrument creating a solar energy easement is issued by a city or otherwise requires approval from a city, the instrument shall be attested to and contain the original signature of a city official in addition to the descriptions and chart required under subsection (1) of this section.
- An instrument creating a solar energy easement shall be indexed when recorded by the name of the city and the names of all parties claiming any interest in the real property benefited or burdened by the easement.
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.