Considerations Before Signing A Solar Agreement

Wisconsin is moving away from carbon-based fuels such as coal, and moving toward renewable energy such as wind and solar. This means there are more opportunities for farmers to add value to their farms with solar arrays.

Bill Oemichen, professor of law at the UW-Madison Division of Extension, says roughly 100 or more solar developers are seeking to do business with Wisconsin farmers to lease land for solar arrays. He emphasizes farmers should think carefully before signing solar agreements as these are decades-long contracts.

Negotiating a lease with a solar developer may be challenging. The developer typically is advantaged by their longer experience. The agreements are often long and include complicated language that is hard to understand for most non-attorneys. 

To offset this advantage, landowners interested in leasing land to a solar developer should first do their homework. This includes retaining an experienced attorney before negotiating and signing a land lease.

Oemichen explains that you are essentially signing away your property rights in a land lease. You’ll need to ask about building, recreating (ATVing, hunting), or doing agriculture practices on the land that the solar array is on.

And finally, make sure that the plans are in place for decommissioning the solar array when the lease is up. 

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