Farmland for Lease in North Carolina? Consider a Solar Farm.
June 7, 2016
Farmland for lease in North Carolina? Joe Milikan of Randolph County, North Carolina, is three years into his land lease with Cypress Creek Renewables, and the verdict so far? “I hope it never ends,” he said.
Solar Farming Works in a Solar-Friendly State.
North Carolina is a national leader in the transition to clean energy with 2,087 megawatts of installed capacity – enough to rank them in third place just behind California and Arizona. This is due in part to the fact that in 2007 – a point in which North Carolina could claim just one megawatt of installed solar – it became the first state to implement a Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS). This standard requires investor-owned utilities to obtain at least 12.5 percent of their energy requirements through renewables or energy efficiency (such as demand response, efficiency retrofits, etc.).
But that’s not all. North Carolina is a U.S. solar champion because the state has also made investing in renewables development projects very attractive. It offers a 35 percent state renewable tax credit on top of the 30 percent federal solar investment tax credit. These credits incentivize investment in renewables development – and this move has not just been a boon for investors. The Rocky Mountain Institute cites a report from RTI International and Duke University that says, “for every dollar of the investment tax credit the state has provided, $1.93 has been returned to state and local governments. Further…from 2007 to 2014, the solar industry attracted $3.5 billion in investment in the state’s economy—roughly 18 times more than what the state invested in tax credits and state spending.”
The state also understands that utility-focused mandates must be offset with utility-friendly incentives. They accomplished this with their “Qualified Facility (QF) Friendly Practices.” These QFs are associated with the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA). The Rocky Mountain Institute, in the same article cited above, explains that QF friendly practices include the establishment of 15-year avoided costs agreements when purchasing solar energy from a development producing five megawatts of energy or less. These agreements ensure that utilities pay the same price for green energy as they would for energy they supply themselves or purchase from a non-QF.
Basically what this means is that the utility is guaranteed renewable energy at a fixed price that is lower than the price at which they resell it. Therefore, the North Carolina utility industry can provide solar to its customers and still make a profit without raising rates for consumers.
In North Carolina, Solar Is Good Business for Everyone Involved
These measures have made it possible for everyone involved in the process to profit. Here at Cypress Creek, we have built and are continuing to develop small utility-scale solar projects throughout the state, just like the one at Joe Milikan’s property. The state has made it easy for us to work with utilities, landowners and communities to develop in a way that is profitable for everyone. We like the smaller development model, because it puts us in business with people like Joe, who have farmland for lease and are looking for passive income, but still want to maintain their property for future generations.
The Milikans were timber farmers, who no longer had the time to make the most of their property. They entered into a 40-year lease with us and are now hosting a solar farm that delivers clean energy to their region by way of their state’s existing utility infrastructure. The farm makes no impact on their daily lives or the lives of their neighbors or surrounding community.
“We the people are paying nothing out of our pocket for these [solar farms],” said Milikan. “Investors put in the money, get a tax break, but no money is being taken out of my pocket or my neighbor’s pocket.”
Read Joe Milikan’s Story
If you’d like to read the full account of Joe Milikan’s experience with Cypress Creek, click here. Or, visit our Landowner page for more information on how you can lease your unused land for solar farming.
Cypress Creek Renewables is the nation’s largest developer of utility-scale solar developments.
Find out more about our process – visit the Cypress Creek How We Do It page next.
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