Friday, January 25, 2013

Solar Energy and the Registry of Deeds

Yes, the south-facing Record Hall which is now the recording hall does get pretty warm on sunny days but that's not what I'm talking about.  Last summer, a sales person for a solar energy company was making the rounds of my neighborhood offering no-cost installations of roof top units and cheap electricity for years.  I never seriously considered it but some of my neighbors did.  It never occurred to me - although it should have - that the registry of deeds might be involved.

Last week one of register colleagues sent me a document that had been presented for recording in that register's office.  The caption read "Notice of Solar Energy Producer Contract" and it emphatically stated that it was not a lien or encumbrance.  Except I think it is.

The document states that the company retains ownership of the "solar electric generation system" that is to be placed on the house and that such equipment remains "personal property" and does not become part of the real estate in the real estate law sense of the word.  The contract also states that the homeowner agrees to buy electricity for 20 years.  But how many people live in the same house for that long a period of time?  The agreement permits the current homeowner to transfer the contract to the new owner but only if the new owners meets the company's credit standards.  If the current owner fails to work that out with the solar company, then the current owner is liable for various penalty payments.

None of this should keep people from considering these kind of solar energy contracts, but everyo

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