Through its nation-leading Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York State requires 70% of electricity to come from renewable energy systems by 2030. As a result of solar-friendly policies and the increasing economic appeal of renewable energy, you may have noticed more “solar farms” popping up in our communities.

Here are some FAQs regarding those solar farms you see while driving along the highway or down your neighborhood road.

Why not use a rooftop for solar arrays?

Rooftops and landfills offer great opportunities for some solar projects. However, a rooftop often doesn’t always provide the area/size needed for a larger project, significantly impacting the project’s economics.  Installing a project on a landfill can also present challenges, such as higher installation costs and proximity to substations, for example.

How do solar arrays support farmers?

Solar projects can be a steady, reliable source of income for farmers or property owners who may otherwise have to rely on fluctuating subsidies or a favorable growing season climate. A farmer can lease a portion of their land for a solar array, with the economic yield per acre about 5x the amount they would receive for corn or soy, for example.  GreenSpark Solar collaborates with organizations such as the Genesee Land Trust to support the protection and preservation of agricultural land in New York while supporting the deployment of solar energy.

Additionally, agrivoltaics can increase land-use efficiency and resource utilization.  Agrivoltaics involve the co-location of solar energy installations and agriculture (e.g., pollinator habitat, livestock grazing, and crop production), forming a mutually beneficial relationship between solar energy generation and agricultural activities. Check out this local example of solar grazing, where the sheep manage vegetation on a GreenSpark solar farm.

How does a solar farm impact the land?

A solar installation removes soil from agricultural production, allowing the soil to replenish throughout the 20+ year lifetime of the array.  Providing rest for soil maintains soil quality and enhances agricultural land’s biodiversity, increasing the land’s value for future agricultural use.  Since panels are raised above the ground on posts and installed in rows with spacing between them to avoid overshadowing, the land is still accessible for plant growth, wildlife enrichment, or complimentary agricultural activities.  

What will happen to my property value if I live near a solar farm? 

Evidence shows that being near a solar farm may increase your home’s property value.  A study from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) showed no significant negative impact on adjacent property value and found solar farms may even have a positive effect. 

Although it depends on the jurisdiction, solar developers will work with local assessors to determine how they will structure property tax payments, often through a Payment-in-Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement paid by the project owner, not the landowner. This additional tax revenue allows towns to make updates and advancements that benefit their citizens.

Will there be a loss of habitat and wildlife with a solar installation?

As part of the permitting process for any Commercial Solar project in New York State, project developers must work with the Department of Environmental Conservation to ensure no significant impact on habitats and wildlife. In most cases, arrays will be sited away from sensitive environmental areas such as wetlands or Areas of Environmental Concern. 

Do solar farms produce noise or glare?

The short answer is no. However, there will be typical construction noise during the few months of construction.

Solar panels are designed to absorb light, not reflect it. Modern solar panels reflect as little as 2% of incoming sunlight, about the same as water and less than soil or wood shingles.  Consider that solar panels have been installed without incident at many airports, including the Rochester Airport.  

What if I don’t like how a solar farm looks?

GreenSpark Solar (and other reputable solar developers) works with the local community to ensure a solar project meets the specific needs of the community and environment. Often, visual screens are implemented, such as a row of trees or plants, to offer a visual buffer.  Solar racking typically does not exceed 9’ in height, so it is possible to mitigate visibility issues should they arise.

Who pays for the decommissioning of the project? 

The project owner pays for the decommissioning of a project, and the local permitting authority typically requires the security of this process before the project is built. Additionally, the terms of any reasonable lease agreement will involve the removal of all equipment at the end of the agreement or if it is no longer in operation. Decommissioning a solar project includes replacing topsoil that may have been removed so that the land can return to being farmed.

Can solar panels be recycled?

The main components in solar panels include glass, plastic, and aluminum -all recyclable. Most solar panels experience a 35-40+ year life cycle. As more solar panels get closer to the end of life, the market for solar panel recycling will grow.

What are the benefits of a solar farm to the local community?

While there are many benefits of a solar farm, a GreenSpark Solar farm could include:

  • Improvements to the distribution grid and quality of power in a given area. Solar projects require upgrades to the local distribution grid to support the installation – these costs are paid for by the project owner.
  • Property tax payments or community benefit payments, which benefit the local municipality and community members.
  • Job creation through sourcing of local contractors and people to build the system.
  • Strengthening the resiliency of local farmers and property owners via a long-term income stream of lease payments for the solar farm.
  • Carbon emissions reduction through the installation of clean energy.

Want to learn more about leasing your land for a solar array? Visit here.


Interested in seeing what GreenSpark can do for you? Let’s chat.

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