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Owner of solar-powered home fights neighbor's trees, gains little ground - "Right to sunlight"
Tampa Bay - St. Petersburg Times ^ | May 20, 2012 | Will Hobson

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 ...


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Front Page News; Government
KEYWORDS: environment; green; lawyers; regulations; sucker
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1 posted on 05/20/2012 7:22:04 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

If I were Gibson, I’d have told car-salesman Zwalley, “Let me take this back to my manager; I’ll fight like hell for you!”

If the three trees in the picture are what Zwalley’s worried about he’s an idiot. Hell, he’s probably an idiot anyway....the few panels he has for $65,000?


2 posted on 05/20/2012 7:26:09 AM PDT by Gaffer
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Hey,Mr Solar Power...go bleep yourself.


3 posted on 05/20/2012 7:26:20 AM PDT by Gay State Conservative (Julia: another casualty of the "War on Poverty")
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
What a waste of money. Even if he saves $300 a month on his power bill, his break even point doesn't come for 18 years. And that assumes that he spends nothing on maintenance.
4 posted on 05/20/2012 7:28:22 AM PDT by SunTzuWu
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

This guy has a$$HOLE WRITTEN ALL OVER HIM


5 posted on 05/20/2012 7:29:09 AM PDT by Mr. K (If Romney wins the primary, I am writing-in Palin/Gingrich)
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To: SunTzuWu

I thought the same thing. At best he’ll break even in 14 years. A tremendous waste of money.


6 posted on 05/20/2012 7:31:30 AM PDT by vladimir998
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To: SunTzuWu

He should just pay the neighbor part of what he saves on electricity, instead of trying to get the government to use force on his behalf to make the neighbor comply with him.


7 posted on 05/20/2012 7:33:25 AM PDT by mvpel (Michael Pelletier)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
He had asked the neighbor, Wade Gibson, not to plant the trees there.

You don't like your neighbor planting tree's on his property?

Simple solution.....

MOVE!

8 posted on 05/20/2012 7:33:42 AM PDT by EGPWS (Trust in God, question everyone else)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
wait till the treehuggers get to him..
treehuggers vs greenieweenie.

9 posted on 05/20/2012 7:34:56 AM PDT by skinkinthegrass (WA. DC E$tabli$hment; DNC/RNC/Unionists...Brazilian saying: "$@me Old $hit; different flie$". :^)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

On his roof, wearing flip-flops.

Darwin will eventually take care of him.


10 posted on 05/20/2012 7:35:06 AM PDT by Stalwart
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Why I love Florida. If the tree hugger doesn’t like it he can GTFO. Gibson’s nicer than I would be. I’ll give anyone a fair chance but once they demonstrate they’re a whack job all bets are off.


11 posted on 05/20/2012 7:35:17 AM PDT by MtBaldy (If Obama is the answer, it must have been a really stupid question)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

I believe “Stick it where the sun don’t shine” is the proper response.


12 posted on 05/20/2012 7:36:07 AM PDT by Tijeras_Slim
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

This numbnuts reminds me of people who move close to an airport then complain about the noise.


13 posted on 05/20/2012 7:36:32 AM PDT by unixfox (Abolish Slavery, Repeal The 16th Amendment!)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

I guess some kind of tax credit makes it work for Zwalley since the best payout on this $65,000 investment is a little over 13 years.

Yeah buddy, that is the way I want to spend my money.

Better than the stock market though?


14 posted on 05/20/2012 7:37:00 AM PDT by Sequoyah101
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To: SunTzuWu

And what is the life expantency on these panels? Most of them are listed at 15-25 years, so more than likely at his “break even point” he will have to start replacing the system! What a maroon!


15 posted on 05/20/2012 7:37:09 AM PDT by ExTxMarine (PRAYER: It's the only HOPE for real CHANGE in America!)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
$65k for the system.

Saving $300-$400 a month. Lets call it $350.

$350 x 12= $4200 a year

$65,000 ÷ $4200 a year= 16 years

Not to mention interest. Lost, if he paid cash. Paid, if he financed it.

$65,000 x 6%= $3,900 = Not much in savings.

Now of course, if we are talking peace of mind of relying on the electric company, that worth can only be answered by the homeowner.

I wonder how much lawyer fees are going to cost in the end?

16 posted on 05/20/2012 7:37:39 AM PDT by mountn man (Happiness is not a destination, its a way of life.)
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To: EGPWS
An even easier solution is to plant something that harbors pests that like to eat your neighbor's trees.

Or, simply cut off any branches that extend over your lot ~ lawful everywhere in America if not in most of the world.

17 posted on 05/20/2012 7:37:46 AM PDT by muawiyah
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To: Gaffer

another case of some asshole worrying about someone else’s property.


18 posted on 05/20/2012 7:37:58 AM PDT by richardtavor
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
this dork spent 65k to save 3600-4800 a yr??? and now he is bit*hing about trees WOW
19 posted on 05/20/2012 7:37:59 AM PDT by markman46 (engage brain before using keyboard!!!)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
A frustrated environmentalist versus the environment - hehehe!
Solution: Mount the panels on tall poles.
Who cares about the cost, it's for the environment!

20 posted on 05/20/2012 7:38:48 AM PDT by BitWielder1 (Corporate Profits are better than Government Waste)
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To: mountn man
You have to apply the discount factors times the cashflow for each year in the analysis ~ and they'll be different.

Plus, there's not just interest here, there's the amount of money he'd have to earn to get back the difference in cash.

With taxes climbing all the time he might well make back his investment in 5 years (considering interest rates are near 0).

21 posted on 05/20/2012 7:40:14 AM PDT by muawiyah
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To: EGPWS

I’ve got a good neighbor. He didn’t love the big old willow trees in my yard shedding all over the place but he never complained. Xourse after a storm I usually cleaned up the mess they left in his yard first.

He did say that he was thinking about having a party when I cut them down.


22 posted on 05/20/2012 7:40:19 AM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Around here, the hail would destroy his mis-investment in a few years.


23 posted on 05/20/2012 7:41:23 AM PDT by Clay Moore (The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of a fool to the left. Ecclesiastes 10:2)
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To: markman46
If you pay taxes at the rate Sean Hannity pays them, he's earning about $10,000 per year ~ since that's what he'd have to earn additionally to get that return.

Individuals are different than businesses ~ there's no depreciation on your owner-occupied dwelling.

24 posted on 05/20/2012 7:42:04 AM PDT by muawiyah
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Spend $65K on money-losing solar panels then spend untold time and money over a problem that may or may not happen years from now?


25 posted on 05/20/2012 7:43:18 AM PDT by P.O.E. (Pray for America)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Assuming nothing breaks or needs maintenance, it will pay itself off in 167 - 233 months!


26 posted on 05/20/2012 7:43:49 AM PDT by EEGator
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To: SunTzuWu

Yes, he’s 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”. I don’t know if his state or county gives him something too, but they might. He’ll make out just fine and a whole lot sooner than you think.


27 posted on 05/20/2012 7:47:43 AM PDT by Pollster1 (“A boy becomes a man when a man is needed.” - John Steinbeck)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Most likely ,by the time the trees actually are shading the panels it won’t matter to Zwalley.

Although I am kind of surprised by the hatred evinced by some for solar and enviromental concerns.

Of course concern for the enviroment once was called “conservation” and had as its goal maximizing human benefits ,both tangible and intangible, while minimizing destruction of the land,plants,and animals.


28 posted on 05/20/2012 7:47:43 AM PDT by hoosierham (Freedom isn't free)
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To: Mr. K
"This guy has a$$HOLE WRITTEN ALL OVER HIM"

Yes, but he FEEEEEEELS so goooood about what he has done!!!!

29 posted on 05/20/2012 7:48:21 AM PDT by galloway15
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
OK, lets look at the points.

First, when Gibson moved into his home, there wasn't a house with 44 ugly solar panels on it.

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.

Sounds to me like Mr Gibson planted the trees to block HIS VIEW of Zwalley's property.

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.

The correct answer is: Plant more damned MATURE Cypress trees!

30 posted on 05/20/2012 7:48:34 AM PDT by mountn man (Happiness is not a destination, its a way of life.)
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To: Gaffer

How long before he realizes a return on an investment of 65K when his bill was 300 to 400 a month? Can the guy add?


31 posted on 05/20/2012 7:49:39 AM PDT by yldstrk ( My heroes have always been cowboys)
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To: cripplecreek
He did say that he was thinking about having a party when I cut them down.

Yeah, my homestead in MN is surrounded by 60' cottonwoods and a woods on one side.

My neighbor on the other side shares the cottonwoods so we share the efforts of clean up.

I have one 5' tree here in GA and life is good when I'm here! : )

32 posted on 05/20/2012 7:50:48 AM PDT by EGPWS (Trust in God, question everyone else)
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To: EGPWS

In fact Gibson planted the cypress trees to replace shade lost on his driveway and garage after the $65,0000 solar guy cut down his own large oak tree (probably to accommodate and facilitate his “cheap” solar power decision).


33 posted on 05/20/2012 7:51:06 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Mr. K
This guy has a$$HOLE WRITTEN ALL OVER HIM

Uhhhh....YEAH.

He's a CAR SALESMAN.

Definition
Car salesman: 1. A$$hole

34 posted on 05/20/2012 7:51:32 AM PDT by mountn man (Happiness is not a destination, its a way of life.)
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To: mountn man

You omitted the prime factor in the new equation. When there is no coal or nuclear power, the comparative advantage will shift.

Meantime ,the self esteem value factor will be adequate to justify the cost differential. To calculate the value of self esteem and mental superiority is not possible. Both have large irrational factors


35 posted on 05/20/2012 7:52:39 AM PDT by bert ((K.E. N.P. N.C. +12 ..... Present failure and impending death yield irrational action))
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To: SunTzuWu

It will be interesting to see what happens to all these panels during a hurricane.


36 posted on 05/20/2012 7:53:00 AM PDT by Grams A (The Sun will rise in the East in the morning and God is still on his throne.)
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To: muawiyah

Only to the property line.


37 posted on 05/20/2012 7:54:00 AM PDT by mountn man (Happiness is not a destination, its a way of life.)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
My feed from the electric company doesn't care where the sun is at any given time of the day or night.

Those are going to be some big-ass trees to "shade" his cells all day long.

I hope the guy who has the trees wins.
38 posted on 05/20/2012 7:54:26 AM PDT by FrankR
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To: vladimir998

Less then that, far less. When the financial markets settle down, and they will, $65,000 invested modestly in a balanced portfolio will bring about 7-8%. This amounts to about $4700.00 or about $400.00 monthly and he would still have the original invested amount.

Of course there are taxes involved but even so his investment in solar at this time is a poor investment choice given the rapid growth of technology in this area.


39 posted on 05/20/2012 7:54:26 AM PDT by galloway15
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To: cripplecreek
I’ve got a good neighbor.

Is his name State Farm?

40 posted on 05/20/2012 7:55:42 AM PDT by mountn man (Happiness is not a destination, its a way of life.)
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To: BitWielder1
A frustrated environmentalist versus the environment

A treehugger that won't hug his neighbor's trees.

41 posted on 05/20/2012 7:56:51 AM PDT by Calvin Locke
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To: mountn man

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.


42 posted on 05/20/2012 7:57:41 AM PDT by BookaT
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To: hoosierham

“Yes, he’s 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.


43 posted on 05/20/2012 7:59:10 AM PDT by MtBaldy (If Obama is the answer, it must have been a really stupid question)
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To: yldstrk

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.


44 posted on 05/20/2012 8:00:34 AM PDT by Gaffer
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To: mountn man

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.


45 posted on 05/20/2012 8:00:42 AM PDT by galloway15
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Right to sunlight...how about right to shade?!?!


46 posted on 05/20/2012 8:00:47 AM PDT by FES0844
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To: All

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.


47 posted on 05/20/2012 8:03:01 AM PDT by ace2u_in_MD (You missed something...)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

at least he has proved his awesome coolness..........lol


48 posted on 05/20/2012 8:03:14 AM PDT by yldstrk ( My heroes have always been cowboys)
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To: MtBaldy
Gibson’s nicer than I would be.

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.

49 posted on 05/20/2012 8:05:09 AM PDT by Calvin Locke
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To: mountn man
.....The correct answer is: Plant more damned MATURE Cypress trees!

Or perhaps drill for oil!


50 posted on 05/20/2012 8:05:30 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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