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Defining Power Property Expectations

June 2015

Citation: 45 ELR 10542

Issue: 6

Author: Michael Pappas

To date, most government efforts to promote distributed solar energy have involved incentivizing property owners to undertake voluntary installations. However, that approach is changing, as government actors move to increase distributed solar generation capacity not only through incentive programs, but also through requirements. Such a change from voluntary to mandatory measures represents a seismic shift in the approach to encouraging distributed solar generation, and it may raise objections about interference with property expectations. The Comment addresses those concerns by exploring the nature of property expectations in the energy context and analyzing how courts and legislatures have balanced property expectations against past government measures to encourage energy production and development of underexploited resources. The Comment concludes that throughout the history of energy development in the United States, property owners’ expectations have been understood to accommodate socially beneficial energy production, and that the concerns surrounding the promotion of distributed solar generation counsel a similar approach.

Michael Pappas is an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.

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