When it comes to leasing land for a solar farm project, most landowners will, understandably, have plenty of questions about the process and what it means for their property moving forward. Below is a Q&A taken from an actual conversation between YSG Solar and an interested landowner, giving a detailed insight into the process behind a solar land lease. Of course, if you have any more questions, just give us a call at or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to speak directly with a solar farm professional.
Solar Farm Q&A
The following questions and answers are adapted from an actual conversation between YSG Solar and a landowner interested in leasing their land for a solar farm project. If you would like further elaboration on any of these answers, or to ask some questions of your own, get in touch today via 212.389.9215 or email.
Q) In the contract it mentioned subletting. I thought when we last talked, your company did not sublet leases? If we sign a contract, can you in fact sublease or would I be dealing with YSG solar directly for the term of the contract?
A) You would be dealing with YSG directly as we would own and operate the panels for the lifetime of the system. YSG and all solar companies have tax equity investors who invest in the project in order to utilize the available tax credits. They require the lease to have the flexibility to reassign the lease. This is done to protect their investment—we can explain further by phone.
Q) There is a clause about the emission of particulate matter, smoke, etc. Does this mean I could never use a wood-burning fireplace? I'm not burning garbage or yard materials, however I didn't know if this also would include a wood-burning fireplace?
A) No, this does not mean that you can use your wood-burning fireplace, we want to avoid a fire or large clouds of smoke near our electrical equipment. That is the purpose of this clause.
Q) With regards to the right of first refusal section of the contract, am I correct in thinking that if I would ever look to sell the property, that YSG would have the right to match any offer and purchase the property?
A) That's exactly right, we would make an offer to you that you can either reject or accept.
Q) At the end of contract, it specifies that the property is returned to, essentially, its starting condition. Is there a reason why anything below soil or grade isn't removed? I don't know if footers or whatever else is installed below grade but wouldn't those be removed as well?
A) At the end of the lease term, YSG will restore the land to the starting condition. It is not standard to remove the PVC pipe that is underground, which is used to protect the copper wire. The copper wire is removed, just not the plastic PVC pipe. This is typical in the industry, but if you feel strongly against this I can bring it back to my team.
Q) After a system is installed and operational, how often are crews there to mow, check on panels, remove snow, etc?
A) Minimally—a few times a year for maintenance. The scheduled visits typically occur 6 times per year, and YSG also has emergency staff available if need be. Snow removal and landscaping would be as needed. Our drones inspect each solar panel twice per year.
Q) In addition to the panels, what other equipment is installed on the property?
A) Racking structure that supports the solar panels, inverters (small boxes mounted behind the solar panel racks), and transformers mounted on a pad (these are usually about 6ft by 6ft). Additionally, 1-2 utility poles are installed for electrical meters and other electrical switchgear.
Q) Do you have to put a fence around the installation? If so, how close to the panels and property line can it be installed?
A) We must comply with the town code, it's typically about a 50'-100' setback from the property lines. The solar equipment will be fenced in entirely. This keeps our equipment secure.
Q) If the contract is for 13 acres, does that guarantee me that all 13 acres will be used or could you end up using 10, 11, etc.?
A) In general, yes. Though we could end up using less, the way our contract is designed, since we establish a base price per buildable acre. That being said it does not make financial sense for YSG to construct a solar farm that is below 10 acres. The economics are tight on these projects since the electricity is sold at such a discount. We anticipate using your entire parcel if the project does move forward, which we hope it does.
Solar Farms & Land Leasing: Further Reading
We have extensively covered solar farms, solar land leasing, and landowner solar on this blog in the past. Below are some of our most popular solar land lease articles, if you’d like to read more on the subject.
To learn more about the factors determining solar land lease rates, check out our short video below.
Solar Farm Land Leasing: States & Requirements
YSG Solar is seeking land for solar farm project development in the following states. Ideally, the parcel of land should be a minimum of 10 acres, with little to no wetlands and minimal incline (5 degrees at the most). The land should also be located within 1,000 ft of three-phase power, and 3 miles of a substation.
If you would like to learn more about leasing your land for a solar farm project, reach out to YSG Solar today. YSG will determine whether or not your land is suitable for a solar farm land lease and answer any questions you may have about the process. To get in touch, send us an email or call at 212.389.9215.
YSG Solar is a project development vehicle responsible for commoditizing energy infrastructure projects. We work with long-term owners and operators to provide clean energy assets with stable, predictable cash flows. YSG's market focus is distributed generation and utility-scale projects located within North America.
Featured Photo by SayCheeeeeese, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.