Man wanting to go off the grid battles Orlando over solar panels

City says no solar panels allowed on front of Historic District home

By Nadeen Yanes - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - Orlando City Council voted on Earth Day to allow for solar panels on a home in the Lake Cherokee Historic District as long as the panels are not on the front of the home.

"I felt like going 100% off the grid and being able to supply my own power was the right thing to do," homeowner Cy Pizam said.

However, Pizam says his home faces the sun and it's in the front where the solar panels will get the most power. 

"They are arguing it's an eyesore, but the only place that science shows that they should be placed is in the front of the house," Pizam said.

The home, which is on Palmer Street right on Lake Cherokee was built in 1949 and a not considered a historic home, however it is within the Historic Lake Cherokee District and because of that, Orlando's Historic Preservation Board will not allow Pizam to put the solar panels on the front of the house facing the lake. 

"The solar panels are very different from historic materials on a home and the neighborhood in general," said Richard Forbes, an officer with the Historic Preservation Board. "They are glassy and shiny and have a real impact because they are there to reflect the sun and capture that so they are a different looking product." 

That doesn't mean the city isn't allowing the solar panels at all, in fact state statutes say they aren't allowed to do so. The city recommends instead for Pizam to put the solar panels on secondary roof panels and in the back.

But that won't work for Pizam.

"One, it's too expensive. Two, it wouldn't work," he said. 

He feels it's ironic that a city led by a mayor with a sustainable energy goal voted against his solar panels in the front of his home on Earth Day.

"Do we not care about the planet?" Pizam said.

In 2017, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer announced a commitment to use 100% renewable energy within the city government by 2030 and as a community by 2050.

Dyer deferred comment for this story to the Historic Preservation Officer.

Forbes said Pizam had one week to appeal their decision but didn't. 

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