Friday, June 1, 2012

Covington-Area Family Battles Homeowners Association Over Solar Panels

Brett Piazza was stopped in traffic in Mandeville, on his way to buy doughnuts, when his life took a drastic turn four years ago. The pharmaceutical salesman was waiting to make a right turn onto Louisiana 22 when his vehicle was rear-ended by an 18-wheeler. Piazza was left disabled to the point that he can no longer work.

Just 40 years old, he relies on disability payments to support his two young sons, while his wife, Amy, often works overnight shifts as an ICU nurse to help pay the bills. So Piazza tried something he hoped would help cut down on the family's expenses, noting an especially high electric bill that at one point reached $460 a month. He had solar panels installed on the roof of his house in the Estates of Northpark near Covington in March and cut his family's time on the grid -- and his electricity costs -- by about 80 percent.

But the time for celebration never came. Before he ever received his first post-solar electric bill, his homeowners association sued him, saying Piazza had not gotten permission to install the panels on his house.

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