BLOG | MARCH 16, 2021

NY State Landowners: There’s Never Been A Better Time to Lease Your Land for Solar

This blog was originally published while our Development team was still operating under the Borrego business name. We’re now New Leaf Energy, the same team under a new name.

When it comes to ambitious state policies supporting the growth of renewable energy, New York has jumped to the top of the list. The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, better known as the Climate Act, requires the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030. To achieve this, the state’s Clean Energy Standard calls for 70% of its electricity to come from renewables by 2030.

What does this mean for landowners in the Empire State? 

Hundreds of solar and wind power projects must be developed and built in New York quickly, to meet the state’s climate goals. These projects are typically hosted on private lands leased by landowners, so this is a golden opportunity for landowners to harvest the sun and earn steady lease income on your property for decades to come. 

Is your land suitable for solar?

There are some basic things to consider if you’re interested in solarizing your property. Ideally, the best locations for solar farms have the following attributes: 

  • Accessibility to a public road so that the construction crews, utility personnel and maintenance teams can easily enter the site.
  • Solar doesn’t like a lot of shade, so a site relatively clear of vegetation is best. If there is some moderate landscaping to be done, those costs can be baked into the contract.
  • The best land would consist of contiguous, relatively flat (less than 15 degrees slope), square or rectangular-shaped parcels, facing south, without intrusion from wetlands, streams or easements. The larger the parcels the better, but the minimum size should be 25 acres or so for solar. 
  • Close proximity to a utility substation. Having utility infrastructure nearby reduces the likely costs of interconnecting to the grid. 

Solar land-lease facts

In this age of social media-driven (mis)information overload, there are a lot of myths about leasing your land for solar. Here are some truths about leasing your land for solar:

  • Solar farms do not negatively impact your property values, they enhance them. And, the long-term income (usually 20 years’ worth) generated by the solar systems creates a steady stream of passive income.
  • Solar and farming can work hand in hand. We work with property owners to site the solar project so it won’t impact farming operations or existing land use. In fact, we can even plant pollinator- and bird-friendly vegetation at the site to enhance its agricultural value. 
  • If the solar technology fails (a very rare occurrence), you are not on the hook. When you sign the contract, you are entitled to full payments for the entire term of the lease. Plus, the solar arrays are regularly maintained, greatly lowering the risk of underperformance or failure.
  • Solar farms are quiet and do not create annoying reflective glare. What little noise there is falls well within the surrounding area’s ambient levels, and antireflective films on the solar panels absorb the sun’s rays.    

Show me the money

Finally, one of the main questions that prospective solar landowners have centers on the lease rate itself, i.e., how much money will I make if a solar farm is built on my property? The rate factors in a number of contingencies, including whether your land is open or forested (which could impact construction expenses), the cost of energy in your area, the amount of sunlight your land receives, property tax levels, state and federal incentives, zoning, and your site’s proximity to three-phase power and a utility substation. For more information, download our guide: How We Calculate Lease Rates.

Why choose New Leaf Energy

We know that many New York landowners are being swamped with pitches from a multitude of solar developers. While there are many reputable solar companies seeking your business, there are few with the 40 years of experience Borrego has building long-term partnerships with landowners, neighbors, utilities and local permitting authorities. In New York alone, we have worked with more than 100 landowners across the state to develop and build more than 350 megawatts of solar. Our experience working in New York and our commitment to long-term partnerships are just a couple of the reasons why landowners choose to work with Borrego.

As a family-owned business, we at Borrego understand the importance of making prudent choices for your land. Our experienced engineers and project managers diligently handle all the details of your solar project lease. We’re your soup-to-nuts development experts, taking care of environmental studies, permits and entitlement issues, as well as securing the interconnection from the local utility. Our experts work closely with the local utility, anticipating any challenges or risks at the start of the project and following all regulations along the way to ensure its success. 

Once the solar farm is operational, we share your satisfaction in creating a long-lasting financial and clean energy-generating legacy for your family.

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can harvest the sun with a solar land lease and earn climate-friendly income for decades to come, click here to contact us.

Amy McDonough

VP of Project Development, New York