Kirkland

Debate over solar panels rages on in Kirkland

Debate over solar panels rages on in Kirkland
KIRKLAND, Wash. -- A group of Kirkland residents say the solar panels in their neighborhood are an eyesore, and they want the city to do something about it.

The residents say the problem stems from a lack of clear laws and permits for solar panels, which are different in every city and county.

Troy Carpenter said a solar panel installed next door reaches across his property line and reflects sunlight right at his house.

"There's lots of good ways to do solar projects and we're very pro solar. But there's also bad ways to do solar projects. This is a great example," Carpenter said.

Carpenter's neighbor got permits for the panels, but the code is vague.

"There's concern that we really ought to change our regulations," said Kirkand Planning Director Eric Shields.

The city of Kenmore is also dealing with some backlash related to its solar panel laws.

Patrick O'Brien used to have 20 solar panels mounted on a sturdy frame next to his Kenmore house, but those panels are now stacked in his backyard.

"On a day like this, it 'd be a perfect day to be making lots of electricity," he said.

The city claims he didn't follow the rules and recently ordered him to remove the panels or pay $200 a day in fines.

"This, this is a crime. This is a crime. This is administrative crime. It could have been totally averted if the city has just done what they told me were the rules at the beginning," O'Brien said.

Experts say there's enough sun in the northwest to make solar panels financially and environmentally worthwhile, but the complex permits required to install the panels are slowing growth.

"Why not combine all of those into one single permit that gives everybody all the information they need at once? Pretty straight forward, pretty simple," said Mike Nelson, a leading expert in solar energy.

Unifying those rules would require action in the state legislature, but Nelson said there's nothing currently in the works.