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It is really easy being green? Well no, not really. My experience is that an owners corporation is the most conservative body on the planet even if its individual members are mostly not that way.
We tried to do a solar PV array on a large carport roof on common property, enough to cover both the costs and actual electricity requirements for all of our lighting of common areas. The economics were a no brainer with the feed in tariffs at the time but it did not get up because it (probably) needed a special resolution and some owners mounted a very vigorous campaign in opposition. We had ample funds already to cover all other anticipated calls on the sinking fund plus a generous contingency amount yet part of the argument claimed we could not afford it. All sorts of other arguments were brought to bear, mostly spurious but enough to raise enough doubt in a large enough minority to stop it. Two general meetings had a majorities in favour but still it has not happened.
We tried to do a communal vegie garden. We have 11 Ha so we are not short of room. In spite of having rules from the mid 70s in our Articles of Association (by laws) about how it was to run we couldn't get a majority in favour even though there is a 2 year waiting list for a community garden down the road. You wouldn't believe the arguments brought by the anti-camp (danger to children?!).
Our experiences were related to the recent review of the ACT Unit Titles Act. Amendments have been presented in the legislative assembly and we hope they get up in a few weeks time. To quote someone else's summary:
On June 23 the new Unit Titles (Management) Bill 2011 was presented in parliament. Importantly, the new bill prohibits any rules of the owners’ corporation that would prohibit sustainability infrastructure such as solar panels. Furthermore, section 23 of the new bill streamlines the process of approving solar panels (and other sustainability infrastrucure). This will facilitate the installation of solar panels on common property, by allowing the owners corporation to permit installation with one resolution (requiring a simple majority). Finally, section 23 also qualifies the prohibition on carrying out a business – owners’ corporations are not prohibited from receiving income from infrastructure such as solar panels as long as the income is used to pay for installation or maintenance costs, or the cost of utilities used by or provided to the owners’ corporation.
Also, for another summary:
There were also some problems on solar with the tax office. In most states/territories their ruling would have any feed in tariff divided up into tiny portions to be taxed in the hands of individual owners at diverse marginal rates, perhaps affecting pensions, rather than once, simply in the hands of the owners corporation. The revised Unit Titles Act also fixes this by enabling sustainability equipment to be held 'in trust' for the owners. That in turn allows simple taxation in the hands of the OC.
It was not at all easy to get to this point but if the legislation passes it will be a lot easier for strata to be green in Canberra!
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