ATTN Farmers: Solar Farming Farmland Preserved

April 5th, 2010

There has been much discussion and question as to whether farmers with property in Farmland Preservation can use that land for solar farming.  The answer is Yes.

Photo credit: www.treehugger.com

Signed into law on January 16, 2010, Public Law P.L.2009, c.213 affords the right of farm protection to farmers who want to install wind, biomass or solar energy systems on their farms.  Protection under this new law limits the size of system to 2 MW (approx. 8-10 acres).

Highlights:

  • All farms must file a conservation plan with the soil conservation district and where applicable account for aesthetic, impervious coverage, and environmental impacts of the construction, installation, and the operation of wind, biomass, and solar systems.
  • The power or heat generated by the systems should be used to provide directly or indirectly but not exclusively, energy for the farm and ensure farm viability.
For Solar systems on a preserved farm:
  • The system can be installed on existing structures, with no overproduction limitation.
  • If ground mounting a system no more than 1% of the farm including preserved and non preserved portions, or
  • The system can be designed to meet the farms energy needs plus 10%.

Farmland Assessment:

  • Income generated from the sale energy created from these systems shall not count toward income to qualify for farmland assessment.
  • The land under and around solar panels to the greatest extent practical is used for farming of shade crops, or other plants, or pasture for grazing.
  • That the land where the systems are to be installed qualified for Farmland assessment the previous tax year.
  • Farms in the pinelands wishing to install these systems can do so if they are consistent with the comprehensive management plan for the pinelands.

If you own farmland in New Jersey and are interested in using part or all of it for a solar farm, feel free to contact us.  We have several ways to structure the venture depending on your needs.  For example, if you just want to sell or lease your land with no money out of pocket to you, we are happy to do a preliminary evaluation to see if a solar farm is viable.  Another possibility is to join forces and we will solar farm together.

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Click here to read Public Law P.L.2009, c.213.

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