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Meetings to explore agricultural solar energy development

4 meetings planned in Michigan; registration is required.

March 1, 2019

3 Min Read
Close up of solar panels on red metal roof
EDUCATIONAL MEETINGS: MSU Extension staff with solar lease agreement, tax, and zoning expertise will provide the educational content at four upcoming meetings.SCI_InDy/Getty Images

Higher rates offered by utilities to commercial solar companies required under the Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act in 2017, combined with the declining cost of solar development, has created the potential for large-scale, utility-scale solar projects to be profitable in the state, said Matt Kapp, government relations specialist for Michigan Farm Bureau.

PURPA, which originally was passed in the 1970s, was designed to encourage energy conservation and support domestic renewable energy such as solar.

Under the federal law, utilities are required to buy energy from renewable generators as long as they do not have to pay more than it costs to generate the power themselves, also known as “avoided cost.”

“The higher rates, along with declining costs of solar panels and advancements in solar energy technology, have improved the balance sheet for new solar energy projects in Michigan,” Kapp says. “But it has also opened the door to questions from farmers and other landowners who have been approached to consider long-term leases for these solar farm projects.”

To help farmers understand the renewable energy landscape, nuances of solar leases, zoning considerations and accompanying tax implications, MSU Extension and Michigan Farm Bureau are holding programs for farmers at four locations around the state.

Kapp says the meetings are targeted to farmers, landowners, agribusiness owners, interested citizens, public officials and renewable energy representatives.

MSU Extension staff with lease agreement, tax and zoning expertise will provide the educational content. Farmers who participate in the programs will leave with valuable, practical knowledge they can use to determine if a solar lease agreement is a sound decision for themselves and their community.

The meeting series will cover a wide range of topics, including:

  • the context for solar energy development on Michigan farmland

  • a community vision for solar energy systems

  • zoning approaches for solar energy

  • siting considerations for utility-scale solar

  • integrating solar with existing ag systems

  • understanding solar energy lease agreements

  • taxation guidance, including the effect on PA 116

All programs run from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., with doors opening at 9:30 a.m. Meetings are scheduled in Michigan on the following dates:

  • March 14. Quality Inn-Forward Conference Center, 2980 Cook Road, West Branch

  • March 19. Fillmore Government Complex-Main Conference Room, 12220 Fillmore St., West Olive

  • March 28. AgroLiquid Conference Center, 3055 W. M-21, St. Johns

  • April 10. Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center, E3774 University Drive, Chatham

To register for a meeting or for more information, visit events.anr.msu.edu/shining. Registration is required and will be accepted up to two days before each meeting. Registration will not be available on-site.

The registration fee is $20 per person. Michigan Farm Bureau and the Michigan Energy Office have provided additional financial support for the meetings.

If you have questions about the agriculture solar leasing meetings or would like information on energy efficiency practices or renewable energy projects, contact Charles Gould at 616-994-4547 or [email protected].

Source: MSUE, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

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