Ag official: much to consider when turning crop farm into solar farm

Published: May. 4, 2023 at 4:05 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TOWN OF WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Swapping prime farmland for solar farms - a Jefferson County official says there’s a lot for communities to consider when developers offer a deal.

County Agricultural Coordinator Jay Matteson says the county has a lot of farmland with flat surfaces, good soil, and high crop production. It’s a winning combination for both farmers and solar farm developers.

According to the Jefferson County Planning Department, 30 percent of farmland in the town of Watertown is considered prime farmland.

Another 30 percent is farmland of statewide importance, meaning the soil isn’t quite as good as the prime farmland but is still good for farming.

Matteson says once a solar farm is planted and stays for 30 years, that land may never be the same.

“You can take the panels off, but you’ve changed the whole characteristic of that land and its ability to grow crops,” he said.

Matteson says once decommissioned, solar farms aren’t required by the state to remove what’s in the ground including electrical wiring and cement slabs, leaving the community to be responsible to remove it.