Skip to comments.Owner of solar-powered home fights neighbor's trees, gains little ground - "Right to sunlight"
Posted on 05/20/2012 7:21:57 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
LARGO Last summer, Mike Zwalley put a $65,000 solar energy system on his roof. The system a 30-gallon solar water heater and 44 black panels that convert sunlight into electricity cut Zwalley's electric bill from $300 to $400 per month to $10 to $20.
About two months after Zwalley installed the system at his waterfront home off Indian Rocks Road, his next-door neighbor planted three cypress trees, each about 10 feet tall, along his property line.
Zwalley, a 58-year-old car salesman, was not happy. He had asked the neighbor, Wade Gibson, not to plant the trees there.
Zwalley found several websites that estimated the trees would grow to between 70 and 100 feet. At that height, they could cast shade on Zwalley's solar panels.
Gibson told Zwalley that he did not think the trees would get that big, but if they did, Gibson would take care of it, according to Zwalley.
That answer wasn't good enough for Zwalley. He called city management. He called state legislators. He called legal experts. They all gave him different forms of the same answer: In Florida, the law is not on your side.
It would be in a few other states, though.
As energy costs continue to rise, legal experts say courts should expect more battles over solar panels and a property owner's rights, or lack thereof, to sunlight.
"We're going to see more and more, and if it's on your rooftop or in your back yard, you're going to be concerned about your neighbor growing trees," said Scott Anders, director of the Energy Policy Initiatives Center in San Diego. "And growing trees is a good thing, right?"
If Zwalley lived in any of the following places,...
(Excerpt) Read more at tampabay.com ...
A treehugger that won't hug his neighbor's trees.
What if electricity rates double in the next few years? Then it maybe that his savings per month end up at let’s call it $700 a month. Probably have it paid off with savings in 10 years.
I don’t know the longevity of solar systems(the ones on your home not in the galaxy), I don’t know what savings or costs this guy will see in the future.
I do know it has to feel pretty damn good to not need the electric company to power your needs. Now if you could just get rid of the cable and the rest of the municipalities’ costs(water, trash, etc.)
I would prefer to be self sufficient even if it meant I spent a little MORE for electricity than having to rely on the electric company.
“Yes, hes an idiot, but the breakeven point is a whole lot sooner than you think. The US taxpayers are refunding 30% of his cost next April 15. The utility is paying him for contributing to their renewable energy assets in addition to cutting his utility bill - and charging his neighbors more to cover the solar renewable energy credits
“Although I am kind of surprised by the hatred evinced by some for solar and enviromental concerns”
See above. The only way anyone even considers solar or wind power is with massive government subsidies. Subsidies paid for with MY tax dollars. Wind and solar don’t work, probably will neve work as utility grade producers of electricity. The are expensive, complex, and have short life spans in addition to their own environmental problems. Solar and wind power systems both have to be backed up by conventional generation plants because wind and solar are not reliable. Yeah, I have a lot of hate for the “greenies” because they are stupid and they lie and I have to pay for it.
16.92 years ROE for a $20 monthly bill reduced from $400 per his account. Many of the cells in his electricity generation system will be gone before that (most of them anyway)...battery replacements, DC/AC conversion system, control system....somebody sold him a bill of goods.
Additionally, they installed this stuff directly over a membrane roof. I’m guessing which will develop stress leaks long before that. I cringe when I look at it.
C’mon, they’re not all that way. In fact the majority of dealerships today are extremely customer oriented and very above board in their dealings with the public.
There are of course a dew of the scumbags still about but they are far far fewer then in the bad old days.
Right to sunlight...how about right to shade?!?!
I think he was putting it in as a hedge on skyrocketing electric rates. All the calculation done do not take into account ant rate increase forecast.
at least he has proved his awesome coolness..........lol
If I were Gibson, I'd be very wary of Zwalley. I read an article some years ago about some of the 1% in Kali involving trees, albeit for the view, not solar power.
The homeowner with the trees came back from a vacation to find his trees cut down. "Somebody" hired a tree service to remove them.
I think the neighbor without the view, er, that used to have no view, was the first one on the list of prime suspects.
And it wasn't an isolated incident involving such opinions on views/trees.
Or perhaps drill for oil!
And most here on FR would agree wholeheartedly, including myself.
But the point for me really isn't about the supposed cost savings. Its really about the guy being an @$$#0L3.
I have a friend that works in solar and he says the panels are only expected to last 15 years at best. If his electric bill is $300 in the winter he must have a small indoor marijuana grow going.
Not saying this guy is right or wrong but I will say again that it has to be great to not need the electric company. It also has to be great to not have to pay taxes on the electricity from the electric company.
How many of you have “smart” meters. This guy doesn’t need to worry about(at least at the level us who buy electricity from an electric company) the government regulating his electricity use, through the end game of “smart” meters that have the ability to transmit data on your electricity usage, what you use when, when you are home, when you are probably awake or sleeping, etc.
Eventually, “smart” meters will probably be used to cut your power down or off when someone deems it necessary.
This guy probably wont have to worry about those things as much as us.
And I’d be suing the tree trimming service in small claims court. They have an obligation to make sure the person ordering trees cut has the legal right to do so. I might also put up some surveillance cameras watching the property line and recording on a 24 hour loop.
In Eighteen years those panels will have been replaced a couple of times, stretching the breakeven point out another twenty years.
It’s going to take approximately 15 years to pay off the cost of his system, meaning he’ll be over 70 years old. Hope he plans on working past retirement a few years.
How the hell does a 58 year old CAR SALESMAN afford a $300 to $400 electric bill, not to mention a $65,000 solar system.
And what kind of dumbass thinks he can tell his neighbors what to do with their own land.
Nevermind, the questions all answer themselves.
That’s usually close enough to make the tree look lopsided.
$65,000 spent to save $380 per month. Am I missing something here?
If you are growing MJ indoors for just a few dollars more you can eliminate the tell-tale electric bill by investing in LEDs.
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