When Carrie Lewis looks out the windows of her East Pennsboro Twp. home, it’s hard to miss the two arrays of solar panels in her neighbor’s yard.

She has nothing against solar energy, but she’s worried the glare and the heat from the 10-foot-wide panels might damage her fence.

All over the country, people are installing energy alternatives like solar panels. But the move to green energy has been too fast for many municipalities to keep their rules up to date.

East Pennsboro Twp. is one of the few municipalities in the midstate to write an ordinance on solar energy systems. That ordinance just had its first test.

It failed.

The panels — installed about 15 feet from Lewis’ property line with the permission of the township — point at Lewis’s bedroom window. The owner of the panels didn’t return phone messages seeking comment over three days this week. A knock on the door went unanswered.

The township wrote the ordinance in February, with the model suggested by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection.

The model is supposed to provide municipalities with a place to start and then adjust it based on their needs, said John Repetz, spokesman for the Department of Environmental Protection.

“I think maybe we gave permission for something we didn’t know enough about yet,” said township manager Bob Gill.

The expanding use of solar panels is sending waves of controversy around the nation.

A California couple tested that state’s right-to-sunlight law in 2008. After installing solar panels, they sued their neighbors whose redwoods cast shadows on the panels. The redwood owners were required to trim about 4 feet from their trees.

Last month, the East Pennsboro board of commissioners put a temporary stop to solar energy systems being installed. The moratorium requires the commissioners to review each request for a permit to install the systems until it can recommend appropriate changes to the ordinance.

Lewis said before the ordinance is rewritten, she thinks the board should seek expert advice on the effects of solar panels.

Other municipalities have been more hesitant about setting their own standards for solar energy systems.

In April, the Hampden Twp. commissioners discussed adopting a solar ordinance but has since put the idea on hold.

Township manager Michael Gossert said they’ve held off on writing a new ordinance for the systems because they’re still researching how to get past potential conflicts.

Source: pennlive

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