Solar Leasing

Will it Work on My Land: Solar Energy and the Future of Farming in the Mohawk Valley
March 7th, 2020, Herkimer Community College

Will it work on my land, with a solar panel in back

New York State has passed some of the most ambitious renewable energy goals in the nation. Under Governor Andrew Cuomo the state has committed to an 85% reduction in greenhouse emissions by 2050 and to sourcing 100% of its electricity from clean sources by the year 2040. The state’s plan is to help consumers make more informed energy choices, develop new energy products and services while protecting the environment.

In order to do this companies are investing in new large scale renewable energy facilities throughout upstate New York. Herkimer county is right in the middle of one of the most desirable locations for these facilities due to its proximity to power transmission lines crossing the state.

Farmers and landowners are being solicited to lease their property by solar developers. Potentially this can create a sustained income stream for property owners to help support the land ownership costs.

Solar leases are long term commitments, usually running 20 years with another 20 renewable that will take up many acres of land. A workshop for land owners was held on March 7th, 2020 at Herkimer Community College. Sponsored by Cornell Cooperative Extension – Herkimer County, Mohawk Valley Economic Development District, Otsego County Conservation Association and the College it brought together experts in the fields of land use, economics, legal concerns and solar grazing to present the latest information for landowners considering leasing.

Person on stage and people in audience at solar workshop


Solar workshop presentations:
1. New York’s Solar Electricity Goals and Agriculture, David Kay, Cornell University

2. Siting Solar Energy Facilities, Jennifer Manierre, New York State Energy Research Development Authority

3. Municipal Planning and Solar Energy Facilities, Matilda Larson, St. Lawrence County Planning Office

4. Co-Location of Solar Facilities and Agriculture, Lexie Hain & Caleb Scott, American Solar Grazing Association

5. Legal Consideration of Solar Leases, Kevin Overton, Harris Beach PLLC

6. Solar Development and Agricultural Laws, Jason Mulford, New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets


Solar workshop presenters standing next to banner


Here are some additional resources on solar leasing:

American Solar Grazing Association

Cornell Cooperative Extension – Sullivan County
Solar Leasing Q & A

Cornell Cooperative Extension – Capital Area Agricultural & Horticultural Program
Issues with Solar Leases

New York Farm Bureau:
Leasing Your Farmland for Wind & Solar Energy Development

New York State Energy Development Authority:
Solar Leasing Fact Sheet & Solar Guide Book

Solar Leasing in Agricultural Districts

Solar Energy Industry Association:
Land Leases for Solar

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