As I was doing my regular reading through CNN.com, I found a strange article that caught my attention. The link on the front page said “Man wins right to sun: judge orders trees cut“. I assumed it would be an article about someone pissed off that his flowers weren’t growing and got a judge to order his neighbor cut down a tree. I couldn’t have been wronger. It was actually a case where a man had installed a $70,000 solar system on his house in the shade of his neighbor’s redwood trees and brought his neighbor to court under a CA law that requires that your trees not block the solar panels on your neighbor’s house. I can understand that to a degree. Solar energy is a good form of renewable energy. We should all strive to use it to help offset the power we get from the grid. However, trees are, in my opinion, just as important. They help cool the area around them and absorb harmful gases, like carbon dioxide.
This case gets weirder, though. The guy with the trees planted them before the solar panels were installed. The guy who installed them wants the law to be strengthened and said it protects his $70,000 investment. I don’t know about you, but if I were installing a solar system on my home, I’d be sure that I wasn’t installing it in the shade of any trees.
Renewable energy is very important, but so is protecting our natural environment, and that includes any “nature” we’ve added. I wonder how much of the solar guy’s yard is covered with trees. My guess is not much. Trees are far better for the environment than an open lawn. I’d also be willing to bet that he wastes water to irrigate it and that he puts down lovely chemicals to keep it nice and green.
More on the CA Solar Shade Control Act at UCAN.