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Going Solar — The Impact of Solar Power on You and Your Community

access_time Posted on: July 28th, 2021
Negotiating the Right Lease 

York and Adams Counties are among Pennsylvania’s leaders in proposed solar production; between them, over 5,000 acres are currently targeted for solar project development, with more on the way. Landowners should be wary when preparing to enter into a long-term solar lease for their valuable land and resources. When dealing with solar energy companies, it is critical to seek sound legal advice to assure success and avoid poor decision-making. The following are just a few issues in solar leasing which require careful consideration and experienced legal assistance: 

Get the right terms. 

Solar leases generally cover twenty to fifty years. In such a long lease, it is essential to clearly define the acreage in use, get the right price and the appropriate rate escalator, and negotiate strong default terms to assure no corners are cut later.   

Tax treatment.  

Negotiating clear terms related to responsibility for taxes is a must. Local tax authorities may use different tax treatment for panels (personalty) than structures for batteries or transmission (fixtures or buildings). It is commonly recognized that a solar array is NOT an agricultural use and triggers clean-and-green rollback tax repayment by the property owner. A well-negotiated lease will shift this burden from the owner to the solar company.  

The Right Option.  

Option periods are currently fluid, and the length and rent payment during the option period can fluctuate greatly. These terms require careful attention. 

Conservation easements

While some preservation bodies consider a solar array to be a non-agricultural use and prohibit the use on preserved properties, other preservation bodies view solar as a renewable resource that should be encouraged, and therefore allow solar arrays on preserved properties.  

Decommissioning.  

It is essential to negotiate a lease provision to address the cost of eventual termination of the lease and cleanup of the property. Assuring a decommissioning bond with favorable terms is a must.  CGA Law Firm is here to provide you with the necessary assistance to guide you through the negotiation process if you choose to explore this opportunity. You own the land, and developers understand that you are the key to solar energy production. Be certain you get the advice you need when making this critical decision.  

CGA Law Firm Attorneys Jasmine Butler and Rebecca Shanaman recently attended the 2021 Penn State Solar Law Symposium and brought back valuable new insights on solar law issues to benefit CGA clients.  Part 3 will focus on the impact of solar on municipalities. 

Jasmine Butler

Attorney

Attorney Jasmine N. Butler joined the CGA legal team in 2019. She is currently an attorney who is working in Real Estate Law, Business and Corporate Law, and Municipal Law. She also has experience in a variety of other practices as well.

Jasmine served as a Law Clerk to the Honorable Chief Judge Christopher C. Conner of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. She also gained experience as a Certified Legal Intern at the Central Pennsylvania Civil Law Clinics. 

Jasmine may be reached at (717) 848-4900, Ext. 120 or by email: jbutler@cgalaw.com.

Jasmine Butler Bio

CGA Law Firm Attorney; Rebecca Shanaman

Rebecca Shanaman

Chair of the Real Estate Practice Group

Rebecca M. Shanaman joined CGA Law Firm in early 2016, bringing over 14 years of experience in real estate and business law from her practice in Chicago, Illinois.

Rebecca has significant experience in all aspects of real estate transactions, including completing comprehensive due diligence investigations and complicated title and survey review. Rebecca has drafted and negotiated complex office and retail leases on behalf of tenants and institutional landlords.  

Rebecca may be reached directly at (717) 718-7135 or by email: rshanaman@cgalaw.com.

Rebecca Shanaman Bio

For more information on this or any of our other area of law, please visit our website or contact a CGA Law Firm Attorney.
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