Thursday, December 29, 2022

Agriculture Secretary Releases Guidance For Farms and Rural Communities Considering Solar Energy Production

On December 29, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding
released guidance for landowners considering solar production on farmland and in rural communities in Pennsylvania. 

The guidance outlines Wolf Administration support for technologies that create jobs and generate farm income without compromising food and fiber production. 

Solar energy is climate-smart technology that meets those goals while reducing emissions and helping reduce the negative impacts of climate change.

“Pennsylvania’s farmland is a precious resource for producing food, protecting our environment, and feeding our economy,” said Redding. “Solar energy production holds tremendous potential for generating electricity to power farm operations and furthering Pennsylvania’s transition to a clean-energy future. If carefully planned, well-situated and properly maintained, solar production will not compromise or diminish valuable farmland resources, rather it will enhance them.”

Issues to guide business decision-making include:

-- Sustainable site selection placing priority on roofs, parking lots or brownfields rather than agricultural or forested land, avoiding premium quality soil locations altogether.

-- Maintenance that protects soil and pollinators through native vegetation free of invasive species; gives priority to grazing vs. mowing, compensating farmers for the service; and includes decommissioning plans to fully restore any soil at a project’s completion.

-- Integration of energy and agricultural production in a way that is complementary rather than competitive.

The guidance outlines additional considerations for owners of farmland including the impact solar production would have on the farm’s enrollment in preferential tax programs, preserved farm status, local zoning, environmental permits and conservation plans and other issues.

Complete guidance, including a list of frequently asked questions and additional resources for going solar, can be found on the department website,

For more information on climate-smart strategies for government, community leaders, agriculture and other businesses, visit DEP’s Pennsylvania Climate Action Plan webpage. 

Find more information, funding, and other resources for making your farmland more productive and sustainable on the State Conservation Commission webpage.

Resource Links:

-- Penn State Extension: Pennsylvania Landowners Guide to Utility-Scale Solar Leasing

-- Penn State Extension: Solar Webinars

-- DCNR: Conservation Considerations for siting, planning, and maintaining grid-scale solar systems in Pennsylvania

-- PA Public Utility Commission: Solar Land Lease Agreements for Landowners

-- U.S. Department of Energy: Farmer's Guide to Going Solar

-- American Farmland Trust: Smart Solar℠ Guiding Principles

-- National Agriculture Law Center: Farmland Owner’s Guide to Solar Leasing

-- Solar Energy Industry Association: Guide to Land Leases for Solar

-- American Planning Association: Planning for Utility-Scale Solar Energy Facilities

Related Articles:

-- DCNR Announces Guidance For Planners Seeking To Generate Clean Renewable Energy Through Grid-Scale Solar Installations

-- Penn State Extension: PA Landowners Guide To Utility-Scale Solar Leasing

-- PA Solar Guidebooks: Helping Landowners and Municipalities Navigate Solar Growth

-- New Guide To Solar Energy Development & Land Conservation Available From PA Land Trust Assn

[Posted: December 29, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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