If you are a landowner in New York, chances are alternative energy companies have contacted you many times over the past few years about setting up a solar farm on your property. The solar market is hot right now, having an annual growth rate of 24% in the last decade.
Now, time is running out to lease land for solar in New York. Is this the right time to act?
Why is Time Running Out?
The population-dense New York metro area has immense energy needs, and Upstate New York has the open spaces utilities are looking for to develop utility-scale and distributed generation (DG) solar farms. Demand remains high for eligible solar sites, but time is running out for you to act. Here’s why:
New York is Close to Achieving Its Energy Goals
The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act requires New York State to get 70% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. To date, more than 50% has already been contracted, and most of the remainder is expected to come from offshore wind. Additionally, in May of 2023, “New York state’s power grid met about 20% of its electricity demand with energy from the sun,” setting a new record. The state’s solar installations continue to increase yearly and look as if they will continue to follow this trend.
Solar is Growing Rapidly
There have been approximately 190,000 solar projects in New York state, giving the state a total capacity of 4.7 gigawatts (GW). This is a big step towards renewable energy for the state, but they still have a long way to go, and there is no sign of slowing down. Development companies are racing to get the best land, making the competition fierce.
Suitable Land is Running Out
The New York solar market can only grow at breakneck speed for so long. After all, there aren’t many suitable sites left for large and small-scale solar arrays. Like the Sooners who raced to settle the best Oklahoma farmland in the 1800s and the 49ers that snatched up their place in the Sierra Nevada during the Gold Rush, today’s utility companies are scrambling to secure a spot before they’re all gone.
Why Should Landowners Lease Property for Solar?
In many cases, solar farms are the highest and best use for any undeveloped land in New York, but the opportunity to lease your site to a solar developer won’t be around much longer because of the high demand, followed by intense market competition. This is your chance to secure above-market lease rates that some farmers are reporting generate 20 times the income cropland would pay. This rock-solid income stream will last for the next 25 to 35 years—don’t take it for granted!
The Impacts of the NY-Sun Initiative
Since the launch of the NY-Sun initiative in 2011, solar has grown immensely while also seeing a significant decline in cost of development. It has also helped to create roughly 12,000 jobs throughout the state. With all combined projects, the state sits at 95% of Governor Cuomo’s goal to install 6 gigawatts of solar by 2025. In fact, 2022 was New York’s most productive year for solar installations with 851 megawatts of capacity installed.
One option for solar is to have local community projects. Enabling consumers to subscribe to local community solar or “small-scale” projects increases access to solar for homeowners and renters who may not have the ability to install their own solar panels. Community solar arrangements vary between roughly five and 50 acres in size, and are delivered via a customer’s regular electric provider. The power produced from a community solar array is fed back to the electric grid, and subscribers receive credit on their electric bills for their portion of the community solar system.
The Growing BESS Market
Another growing market in New York is battery energy storage systems or “BESS” which, as the name suggests, stores energy from solar panels. As New York continues to expand its solar capacity, the state needed to find a way to efficiently store and use the power gained from the sun. The solution to this was the BESS projects, which continue to gain momentum and popularity in the state, assisting New York in reaching its ambitious clean energy goals.
What makes battery storage projects more accessible to the typical landowner, is that it only requires one or two acres in size with close proximity to a substation. With these flexible prerequisites, this means many landowners will have a chance to participate in the future, even if they miss a window for other energy opportunities.
How to Find the Right Solar Development Partner
That’s where Scout Land Consultants comes in. Our team is well-versed in solar developments and serves to mediate the relationship between landowners and developers. With our services, you can expect the smoothest, most successful project possible.
We would be happy to help you navigate the process, so contact us today for a complimentary site evaluation.