homeowner who had installed solar panels was sued by two of his neighbor because the glare off the panels in the midday sun made it unpleasantly bright inside their house and they had to wear sunglasses when they hung the washing outside.
As we are heading into power shortages this summer in Japan since almost all nuclear power has been shut down, it seems more important than ever to secure sustainable power rights for homeowners.
It is unfortunate about the glare the neighbors suffer, but instead of winning financial compensation and forcing the panels to be taken off, isn't there another solution?
How about helping the neighbor pay for tinting on their windows or offering to build a wooden terrace on their balcony that would shield them from the panels reflection? It is important to start thinking outside the box. If the neighbor cannot be appeased, the solar owner should appeal as temporary inconvenience is outweighed by the long term benefits to all of his neighbors from his solar panels.
In Hawaii, solar panels were long banned by neighborhood townhouse associations (along with hanging washing outside or a towel on your balcony) because they were "unsightly". Owners have since taken the associations to court and had the ban lifted as creating sustainable power is for the greater good. There was a recent case in Nebraska where a homeowner was ordered to take down his panels by the Home Owners association because he hadn't asked permission first, seriously- that HOA president took "by the book" a little too literally.
There was a case last year of a home owner getting compensation from his new high-rise neighbor blocked his access to sun. Every home should have the "right" to sunshine to enhance their daily life as well as to cover their own energy needs in a safe and cost-effective way. California solar rights law protects homeowners who want to install solar on their homes from any community regulations and also protects their right to the sun and compensation if they are shaded from neighbor's homes or trees, etc. Japan needs to create similar protections for homeowners to make the right decisions on creating their own sustainable energy. Now that Softbank has led the way to Mega-solar power in Japan, there should also be options for homeowners with no access to personal solar energy (like mansion condo owners) to still be able to make good decisions by allowing individual choice on where your energy comes from. If consumers are allowed to purchase energy via sustainable power companies using wind, sun or geothermal instead of oil or nuclear, these new companies should be able to expand more readily across the country.
The Japanese government has allowed sustainable energy companies to sell their energy to the grid at a competitive price and have obligated energy monopolies across the country to buy at least a percentage of their energy from these companies. Here are details of the plan and locations for Mega-solar projects around Japan via gigaom.com. Kyocera, Panasonic and many of the country's leading solar manufacturers are seeing increases in customer interest as well as government support of larger projects.
Community responsibility should be taking on new meaning in light of clean energy demands, there needs to be compensation and ways to live peacefully in our community without compromising on doing the right thing for our energy needs.