The development of solar arrays across Wisconsin for electric generation is expanding as interest grows in solar as a renewable energy resource. Solar developers prefer level sites free of trees, buildings, and other obstructions to the sun, and land located near roads and needed power transmission facilities, including three-phase transmission hubs and power substations. In many instances, agricultural land fits many of these qualifications. Wisconsin has 14.2 million acres of farmland, making our state attractive to solar developers.
Solar leasing can be a significant financial opportunity for landowners when done right. Solar leases are often a new source of income for farmers and other rural landowners. Currently, there are a number of solar companies seeking to sign up landowners for leases. However, a key mistake landowners can make is solely focusing on the money being offered. The first offer received may not be the best. Rather, landowners need to do homework upfront.
The information presented by the following resources provides important items to think about before negotiating with a solar developer.
Information presented in this factsheet provides important items to think about before negotiating with a solar developer, with a focus on legal liability and tax implications including:
- consideration for land use assessment taxation
- farmland preservation programs
- local regulations
Common contractual terms and conditions are described for a standard solar lease agreement. The factsheet does not and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. All information, content, and materials available here is for general informational purposes only and may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information. Seek legal guidance from competent legal counsel before negotiating and signing a land lease.
Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation (WFBF) Executive Director Bradley Uken interviews U.W.-Madison Division of Extension’s Karl Green, Local Government Education Program Manager, and Bill Oemichen, Professor of Practice – Law, on the opportunities and risks of leasing farmland to solar developers. The wide-ranging interview focuses on why solar energy facility developers are rapidly increasing their demand for farmland; the significant economic gain for farmers and other rural landowners entering a long-term solar lease; why lease research should be done upfront before entering negotiations; and the key considerations, including risks, for landowners when considering a solar lease.
This website focuses on installation design basics and additional resources for photovoltaics (solar PV) as it is more common on farms. The site also links to additional resources and topics in rural energy.
Visit Energy Generation page to know more about MREC-related solar projects and resources to other great informational pages.
- Basic types of solar options.
- How a solar farm lease may affect your assessment and property tax.
- Recommended questions to ask if you are going to sign a lease for a solar farm on your property.