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Farmland for lease solar panels

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.


Read More from the Cypress Creek Renewables Blog:

Environmental, Economic, Secure & Stable – The Benefits of Solar Energy

What Is Distributed Generation and How Might It Shape the Utility Industry’s Future?

Looking into Land Lease Options? Consider A Solar Farm.



Comments (5)
  • Christopher Gay|January 5, 2017

    have 8 acres in eastern Wilson co. N C would like to lease

  • Ted Rich|January 11, 2017

    I am very interested in leasing our farm for solar investment. I have 35 acres that has already passed the survey of a solar company. I am ready to move forward with someone who is ready to take this and run.

Comments are closed.

‘It’s a win/win situation for everyone’ explains solar farm landowner

December 8, 2015

Randolph County, NC – Solar energy is rapidly gaining recognition as the cleanest and most sustainable solution to this planet’s mounting environmental troubles. As a result, solar farms are emerging in communities all over the country, allowing landowners to earn passive income plus contribute to a safer environment and energy independence. Could hosting a solar farm truly be so simple? North Carolina landowner Joe Millikan says that not only is it practical, it’s actually changed his life for the better.

“I hope it never ends,” Mr. Millikan said of his 40-year lease with Cypress Creek Renewables, in which they pay him and his wife to utilize a portion of their property for a mid-sized solar farm, “I couldn’t see it being any better of a situation.”

When Mr. and Mrs. Millikan realized that they no longer had time to make the most of their timber farm, Joe looked into the new solar farm option and found that lending their land to Cypress Creek might just be their most productive option. His rural North Carolinian neighbors had some concerns about the impact a solar farm would have on their community, but Cypress Creek was happy to address their questions and explain anything they wanted to know about the process. “Someone was concerned about the well water and how it might be affected by the chemicals in the solar farm,” Millikan explained, “and that question was answered. Someone was worried about noise, and that question was answered. Cypress explained it all.”

Millikan’s neighbors felt respected and comforted during these conversations, and were pleased to learn that the solar project would have little to no impact on their daily lives. “We the people are paying nothing out of our pocket for these [solar farms],” he pointed out, “Investors put in the money, get a tax break, but no money is being taken out of my pocket or my neighbor’s pocket.”

Both Millikan and his neighbors were delighted to find that, in fact, the Cypress Creek solar farm emits little to no noise at all. “If you get within ten feet you can hear just a little bit of hum,” he stated with great comfort and ease, “but, I mean, if you didn’t listen for it you wouldn’t hear it.”

Even during the construction period, Millikan was pleasantly surprised by just how little the process intruded on his life. Cypress Creek took two weeks to clear his land, grade it, test the soil, and drill holes for the solar panel frames, an easy-breezy time period after which Millikan was happy to report, “These people work really well with you, they were great at staying out of our way,” and that the whole process was “Nothing more than you’d expect. At most it was three days of minor inconvenience.”

Millikan also appreciated Cypress Creek’s straightforward and flexible approach to solar farm construction. “They were always honest about what they wanted,” he recounted fondly, “and there was never a change that I wanted made that they didn’t agree to do. I can honestly say that.”

Now that he’s hosted a solar farm on his property for three years, Millikan is certain that his decision to work with Cypress Creek was a sound one. Today, he benefits from extra income without having to deal with the hassle and hustle of farm maintenance. “This income is our retirement. We don’t have pensions in North Carolina, so this has been a blessing for us. A little income to travel and do a few things we would have not gotten to do.” An experienced farmer himself, Millikan went on to explain that if you’re raising crops, you can’t reliably make $500-$1,000 per acre, and you’re always at risk to lose money.

While Mr. Millikan hopes his lease will never end, many other landowners take comfort in knowing that the land is returned to them at the end of a lease completely unharmed with limitless potential for future development.

And for the Millikan family, this opportunity has been more purely positive than they could have ever imagined. “It’s a win/win situation for everyone,” Millikan stated matter-of-factly, “It’s helpful to me and my family, and it’s good for the environment. It doesn’t get any better than that.” Not only would Joe Millikan recommend a partnership with Cypress Creek, he does recommend it, to any landowner he meets looking to make extra money and a difference for the planet.

DISCLAIMER: This document is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.  Prospective investors are hereby notified that (A) any discussion of U.S. Federal tax issues contained or referred to in this document is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used by prospective investors, for the purposes of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on them under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended; (B) such document is being used in connection with the promotion or marketing by us of the transactions or matters addressed herein; and (C) prospective investors should seek advice based on their particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor with respect to the application of the U.S. Federal income tax laws to their particular situations as well as any tax consequences arising under the U.S. Federal estate and gift tax laws, the laws of any state, local or foreign taxing jurisdiction, or under any applicable tax treaty.