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 ...
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.
How long before a hurricane comes and takes the solar panels and the trees out? This might not be a problem for very long.
Not the best comparison for the past few years, and probably less so going forward as the whole system collapses upon itself.
The rest is tripe - this is the crux:
Pay $65,000 & save $300 per month - and I seriously doubt even that projection as it doesn't even address batteries and equipment maintence & repair - even if you believe all of it.
By their own numbers that is an 18 YEAR break even point
Wherever and whenever "alternative energy' is involved, they suddenly they don't care about trees or pollution or endangered species.
So dude is saving (for now) $300/month, meaning he’ll get his $65K back in about 19-20 years. Of course, the panels will have worn out before that, but who cares, right?
I saw this sign next to some property for sale in Central Hoosierland
I'm assuming this guy has all electric with no gas. He has little heating required except HOT WATER.
Depending on your lifestyle that can be expensive, and even an old fashioned copper pipe solar heater can whack that cost back big time!
He may have overspent. Or maybe he has a couple of chillun' in there who use an iron lung half the day.
There’s no mention of the fact that:
1. There is a 1/3 Federal tax credit to the cost of the system
2. Florida gave $10-20K cash rebates for the systems
So, Federal and Florida taxpayers are already probably subsidizing this individual’s reduced monthly utility bill. If I was an apartment dweller, I’d be pissed.
How do I know this? We took advantage of the same credit and rebate to pay for our 5 kilowatt system.
Only if treated as a single investment opportunity by a business. This is an individual and properly treated the ROI computation will be quite beneficial to him.
Can that setup really produce that much kilowattage? Or is he comparing his highest bill in July with ac running, to his lowest bill, say during really mild weather?
Will this contraption actually run his air conditioner?
I’ve still got one very tall poplar and I learned my lesson about screwing around after they die. I ended up with one in my bed with me.
I’ve got lots of other trees but they’re all pine and good strong maple and hickory.
We had a similiar event in our area, except it was a self inflicted enviro wound.
A nice but not the brightest couple decided to help the earth and installed a huge, expensive and similiar solar system.
They failed to consider the growth of the 100 + year old native oaks on the south and west side of their property. In a couple of years the oaks on their property were blocking most of the sunlight.
They tried to get permission from the homeowners group to cut the tops of the native oaks, which kills oaks in about a year.
One of their neighbors across the street is a rabid and powerful greenie. She got some of her green lawyer and enviro buddies to warn the solar dreamers not to prune or top their oaks.
So each year their expensive and tax supported solar system was less effective then the previous year, which wasn’t very effective.
Two years agao, the ultimate blow came when their roof started leaking, and the roofing company said the installation of the solar system voided their 20 year warranty. The roofing company had warned the home owners, verbally and in writing, that their warranty would be null and void with installation of the massive solar system.
We have the same roofers, and they backed up their 20 year warranty with no /’s. Then after their warranty expired, they have fixed 3 problems at zero cost, where I felt their original roofing had installed some errors. The roofers are good people to deal with unless you do something like install a solar system on one of their roofs.
Last year, the neighbors had their worthless solar system torn down and removed, and a very expensive new roof was installed by an different roofer. The new roofing company had the neighbors sign a waiver if they decided to install another worthless solar system on their roof, their roofing warranty was null and void.
In 30 years, the guy could be dead, or living on the moon.
$65k seems like a lot of money, but I guess he needs a lot of capacity. He would be better off to not go solar and hope his neighbors trees grew tall enough to provide some shade.
Yeah, I've had close calls however in the long run they are worth it for they are GREAT shade tree's.
1) He should have probably invested in insulation or something. It’s ridiculous to be paying $300 to $400 per month for electricity... I’ve yet to pay even close to that in Maryland, and it gets a heck of a lot colder in the winter.
2) Trees provide shade. Shade helps to keep the house from getting as hot in the summer. A house that doesn’t get as hot doesn’t require as much cooling.
3) Ditto to what others said on the price tag. It doesn’t sound like he’s saving money at all.
The glare off Mr. Sun’s roof must be blinding. Nice of him to paint it white while the rest of the neighborhood has conforming roof styles. I’d plant a row of 50 ft. trees between my house and his.
We can’t forget that solar panels aren’t guaranteed for life. Most manufacturers say 20 years. Since most are made in China, I would doubt they get 20 years out of them. In other words, this DB will save nothing. His neighbor probably planted the trees to hide the ugly solar panel roof.
Berkeley, CA has an ordinance that allows a homeowner to cut his neighbor’s tres if they have grown to a height that they block his view of the Bay.
Not saying I agree, or disagree, just saying that’s how it is (and glad that I don’t live there any more.)
Salt the ground. Done.
Or people who move close to a gun range, and then complain. Or people who move into a neighborhood with NO covenants, and start complaining about the color of your house, or cars parked in the driveway and not in the garage....and on and on and on....
I am on the verge of having some of my second growth Redwood trees topped as they are now blocking the morning sunlight to my garden. I call the trees agressive weeds as they re-sprout from the logged stumps by the dozens..
Anyone buying his house is not going to value that solar system an extra $65,000. If he wants to move sometime in the next 15 years he will take a bath.
It's hard to predict the future. Justifying the cost of putting in a heat pump has the same problem. A home buyer won't value it enough to make it worth it.
You don’t think a car salesman paid $65K for those panels, do you? Guaranteed he got money from the govt. to help pay for them.
You’re probably right. Let’s hope all this attention makes its way to an IRS scoundrel who got screwed by a car salesman and decides to check into this dweeb’s ‘efficient energy credits’ on his last income return.
The typical pv solar panel has a life of 20-25 years I believe. A few short years after he breaks even he’ll have to start doing some replacing.
He bought them from Solyndra ..
Some properties have codicils which supposedly stop neighbors from having things placed on their property that other home owners think are ugly.
Some of the things they do not allow are flag poles flying American flags.
When I think a Homeowners association would allow this ugly crap on someones roof and not let them fly a flag I get pissed.
Most “grid tie” PV systems do not have anyway to store energy when the power goes off. Meaning no batteries. The grid and the inverter are synchronised to each other. If the grid goes out, most of these folks who use smart meters are dead in the water also. The utilities don’t want you to export power to their dead power lines.
I know there are many that have batteries as back up for such events, but they are not usually hooked into the grid tie.
If I were to add batteries to my grid tie PV system, I would be forced to disconnect my system.
Basically, Solar Panel Guy, Mike Zwalley, is shooting his wad a bit too soon. He should have first nicely asked his SHADE LOVING neighbor, Wade Gibson, what species he planted before flying off with; "I WANT A LAW DAMMIT, OR ELSE!" To wit: his Shade Loving neighbor, Wade Gibson, is likely telling the truth and the trees won't grow to any problematic height. Although ... one species can grow to be 220 ft tall (LOL), now that'd be a problem. (snicker)
But 'series', since Mr Gibson is an Architectural Project Manger and deals with TREES and LOCATIONS (aka: Architectural Landscaping) on every project he's involved with I think he knows what he's doing and saying. He also knows the Building Codes and any Laws-regulations pertaining to Architecture and Landscaping in his area of FL -- and he knows them by heart.
Especially considering Mr Gibson's age, professional experience. and that he ain't a smart-a$$, wet-nosed kid with a shiny new Project Management Degree trying to 'make his bones' by being a pr*ck (I detest those little brats (1)).
So Mr Zwalley should chill out, sit back, and enjoy his $20 electric bill and stop being a jackass. Though being a USED CAR SALESMAN that may be a little tough. /s
(1) I've been in Commercial Construction for 42+ years now (dam I'm gettin old).
Old data, but shows what was around for FL -
Depending on the number, age, nature, etc., of the trees, I seriously doubt small claims court would be the venue.
However, I'm sure the guilty HO's property insurance won't be too happy.
Besides, if the abutting neighbor lies about an unmarked (save for the trees) property line, who's to say before the damage has been done?
While I generally wouldn't "damage" others property, I'd get a cash only, illegal alien gypsy service to do the work.
I once had a fight with the town over "their" tree rubbing against my house. I had to trim the offending branch myself. Morons.
Even the power company fought with them. They ended up "splinting" the sections of power lines that were subject to rubbing against the trees.
I think the one I remembered was in the WSJ 20 years earlier.
Gay car salesman should move to Oregon.
Maybe if the car salesman had more shade trees he wouldn’t need all that electricity to run his air conditioner.