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Solar easements in Virginia

On Behalf of | Feb 20, 2021 | Real Estate Transactions |

Most every person who owns property deals with easements in some form or another. A good example of an easement is the kind of right that the power company has over the lines running over a home or that the utility company has to the public pipes underneath. They do not own that land, but they do own the right to those pipes. Another example could be a driveway that has to cut through one property to get to another.

Solar easements refer to the rights of someone owning access to the sun itself for the purpose of solar power. That may sound hyperbolic, no one owns the sun, but anyone with solar panels on their rooftop may create a solar easement to ensure they have exposure to solar rays.

Creating a solar easement

According to Virginia law, a property owner may create a solar easement in writing to protect their access to sunlight. Drafting this easement requires a few things:

  • Vertical and horizontal angles, in degrees, at which the solar easement extends over the property
  • Terms and conditions that grant or terminate said easement
  • Provisions for compensation

These easements, as the town of Blacksburg’s site details, allows neighbors to agree not to shade over a property. Light shining over one neighbor’s property to another neighbor’s solar panels is an easement.

Enforcing a solar easement

Shading a property may come in the form of planting high trees or renovating a tall building. Whatever the source of the shading, the owner with the easement is within their rights to pursue compensation for the power they lose due to the shading. Since light is a relatively intangible resource that changes by the hour, this process may get complicated when determining exactly what one neighbor owes another when blocking the sun.