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Tips for Negotiating a Solar Lease


up-close photograph of a solar panel with green leaves in the background

Thinking of leasing your land for solar energy purposes can be an appealing prospect. It not only contributes to sustainable energy initiatives but also can provide a steady financial return. However, entering into a solar lease can be complex and may require some savvy negotiating on your part to ensure you get the best terms possible. It requires due diligence and consulting with a licensed professional. This blog post navigates the intricate process of negotiating a solar lease, offering insights and strategies for landowners looking to seal a beneficial agreement.





Seek Competent Help

Before you even think about sitting down at the negotiating table, it's crucial to seek legal and financial advice from professionals experienced in renewable energy leasing. An attorney who specializes in energy contracts, especially solar leases, can provide invaluable insights into what should be included in the lease and potential pitfalls to avoid.


Additionally, a financial advisor can help you determine the fair market value of your land and what kind of lease terms represent a good deal for you. Never underestimate the power of a well-informed team; they can help you negotiate from a position of knowledge and strength.


*Although LandGate cannot provide legal advice, we can refer you to a licensed attorney familiar with solar lease contracts.*


Discuss Lease Terms with Your Neighbors

Forming a united front with your neighbors can give you more leverage during negotiations with solar energy developers. If several neighboring landowners have been approached by a solar developer, consider speaking with those landowners to ensure that your offers are comparable. However, it is important to keep in mind that just as no two properties are alike, no two solar lease contracts are alike.


Similarly, by bundling your land with other landowners that are interested in leasing their land for solar energy, you can offer a developer a more significant area for a solar project, which could translate to a more substantial lease payment for each landowner involved. This collaboration can also lead to better protection of shared concerns, such as land values, environmental impact, and community benefits.


Clarify Responsibility for Increased Property Taxes

Any development on your land, including solar arrays, may lead to an increase in property taxes. Be absolutely clear in the lease agreement about who will be responsible for these additional costs. Negotiating to keep these taxes under the responsibility of the developer can be a significant advantage that directly impacts the lease's economic feasibility for you.


Understanding and agreeing upon the financial implications of tax assessments ensures that there are no surprises down the road. The last thing you want is to sign a solar lease agreement, and then find out you're on the hook for a hefty property tax increase.


Review Any Addendums and Attachments with Scrutiny

Solar lease agreements often come with an array of addendums and attachments that can significantly alter the terms and conditions of the lease. The last few pages often contain clauses for assignment, confidentiality, and termination. Commonly, these clauses favor the solar developer. This is where an experienced attorney can point out clauses that need to be amended or removed to better protect you.


For instance, some addendums might offer more favorable terms over time, such as increasing lease payments to compensate for the inflation rate, while others might include clauses allowing the developer to automatically renew the lease under the same terms. These are the types of details that can make a substantial difference to the overall value of the lease and should be scrutinized carefully.


Additional Provisions to Consider

Additionally, as the property owner, having the option to sell the leased property if necessary is crucial. Hence, it's advisable to include a provision addressing the potential sale of the property during the lease term.


A clause outlining the terms and conditions for assigning the lease should be incorporated into the agreement, providing the property owner with the authority to approve any assignment. It is crucial for the property owner to have confidence that the prospective tenant possesses the financial capability to meet the lease's financial responsibilities at all times.


Address the Duration of the Lease with Caution

The duration of the lease is a critical component that will have long-lasting implications on your land use and revenue. Solar leases typically last from 20-50 years, which means you're essentially locking in the terms for an extended period. Negotiating for a shorter lease term with clear options for renewal can help protect your interests and allow for adjustments as the renewable energy market evolves. Most solar leases include options for the solar energy company to extend the lease by 5 or 10 year increments.


Be aware of the potential land-use changes in the future and negotiate a lease term that gives you flexibility or a clear renegotiation path. It's important to balance the need for certainty with the ability to adapt to unforeseen developments.


Know Who Will Be Responsible for What

Clear delineation of responsibilities is crucial to a successful solar lease negotiation. The lease must transfer all liability related to using the property as a solar farm to the solar company. This encompasses third-party claims and liability under federal, state, and local laws, including environmental statutes, regulations, and ordinances. You'll need to agree on these details to ensure that the lease adequately protects your interests and that each party is held responsible for their end of the deal.


Learn the Regulations in Your State

Solar lease terms vary by state due to differing solar laws. Factors such as tax incentives, zoning regulations, metering policies, and decommissioning requirements contribute to the uniqueness of solar leases across locations. By familiarizing yourself with these regulations,  you can better understand the landscape of solar energy development in your state and negotiate from an informed standpoint. Additionally, be sure to check for any local ordinances or restrictions on solar development in your area. Some communities may have specific regulations that could impact the terms of a solar lease agreement.


A Successful Solar Lease Begins with Smart Negotiation

A well-negotiated solar lease does more than secure you a source of income—it establishes a partnership that can positively impact not only your finances but also the local community and the environment. Negotiating a solar lease is a multifaceted task that demands careful consideration of several key issues, and there are many things to consider when negotiating a solar farm lease. By seeking the right expertise, collaborating with neighbors, understanding the financial implications, reviewing all attached documents in-depth, and addressing critical components like the lease duration and responsibilities, landowners can maximize the benefits of a solar lease agreement.


The best way to determine if your solar lease offer is fair is to enter your property into a competitive marketplace where multiple solar energy developers are actively searching for new sites and competing with each other for prime opportunities. LandGate's marketplace is used by a robust network of renewable energy developers actively sourcing new solar farm sites. Consider listing your property for lease for free today to ensure you're getting the best offer:



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