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 complimentary 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, agriculture.pa.gov.