New York State Solar Guidebook

The Solar Guidebook contains information, tools, and step-by-step instructions to support local governments managing solar energy development in their communities. The Guidebook’s chapters cover a variety of solar energy topics including, the permitting process, property taxes, model solar energy law and more.

You can download the full Solar Guidebook [PDF] or access individual chapters below.

Solar Basics

An introduction to the common equipment and terminology used in solar technology. Topics of discussion include solar systems, solar terms, system components, net metering and financial considerations with regards to solar development.

Solar Permitting and Inspecting

To allow officials to better understand the permitting and inspecting process, and ensure them an efficient, transparent and safe beginning to their solar development project, this section reviews the solar permitting and inspection process for local government officials and authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs).

Permitting and Inspection Tools

Roof Top Access and Ventilation

Through the 2015 International Residential Code (IRC) and Errata amendments adopted by New York State, specific codes are set in place regarding rooftop access and ventilation when installing a solar system. This section provides information on the parts of the 2015 IRC Code that are applicable to solar installers and Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ), when installing and inspecting the systems. Additionally, figures are shown in this section to visualize and explain scenarios where rooftop access and ventilation will be needed to adhere with the 2015 IRC Code.

State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) for Solar

When beginning solar development in your respective community, municipalities must participate in a State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) for rooftop and ground-mount solar systems. Throughout this section, we provide readers with an overview on the SEQR process, with step-by-step instructions for large solar projects and the background on SEQR regulations.

New York State's Real Property Tax Law § 487

It is increasingly important for local governments to be aware of the New York State Real Property Tax Law § 487 as it relates to developing solar systems in your community. We provide answers to questions that may arise when local officials are deciding whether to opt-in or opt-out of the Real Property Tax Law.

Solar Payment-in-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILOT)

The toolkit assists local governments in New York State who are considering a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) agreement for solar projects larger than one megawatt (MW). It provides resources for local governments to gain more information on PILOT agreements. A few notable resources within the toolkit are the New York Model Solar Energy PILOT Law, Model Solar PILOT Agreement for a single jurisdiction, and the PILOT calculator for taxing jurisdictions.

PILOT Tools

View the Solar PILOT Toolkit webinarLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. hosted on July 25, 2017.

Using Special Use Permits and Site Plan Regulations to Allow Large-Scale Solar Installations While Protecting Farmland

For many municipalities in agricultural districts, it is necessary to consider the short- and long-term needs of farmers, while also supporting the development of solar in their local communities. While sometimes this can be a challenge, there are two land-use tools that are commonly used in New York State to address this issue; special use permits and site plan regulations. These two land-use tools are used for siting large-scale solar systems in agricultural districts, while also allowing local officials to ensure that farmers valuable and productive farmland remains in operation.

Solar Installations in Agricultural Districts

When navigating solar energy projects in accordance with New York State policies, local officials may have unanswered questions regarding solar installations taking place in their respective agricultural districts. In this section, we discuss agricultural assessments, farm-related solar projects, laws and penalties as they relate to solar development in agricultural districts.

Landowner Considerations for Solar Land Leases

When deciding to lease land for solar, landowners have many factors to consider before committing. Throughout this section, we provide landowners with the necessary information to take their solar development project to the next step by discussing the topics of; community solar, pre-acre lease rates, agricultural assessments, conversion penalties, taxing on solar, and other potential impacts and considerations when in the decision making process.

Decommissioning Solar Panel Systems

In this section we provide information for local governments and landowners on the decommissioning of large-scale solar panel systems through the topics of decommissioning plans and costs and financial and non-financial mechanisms in land-lease agreements. As local governments develop solar regulations and landowners negotiate land leases, it is important to understand the options for decommissioning solar panel systems and restoring project sites to their original status.

Model Solar Energy Local Law

Since siting for solar projects is at the local level, the Model Solar Energy Local Law serves as a resource to inform local officials on the processes of installing, operating, maintaining and decommissioning solar systems in their respective jurisdictions. Providing this as a resource for local governments, officials can then use this Model Law to assist them in examining their own local laws, regulations, and policies to adopt their own rules and regulations that make sense for their respective community with regards to solar development.

Model Solar Energy Local Law Tools

Municipal Solar Procurement Toolkit

Included in this toolkit are step-by-step instructions on how municipalities can lease underutilized land, such as landfills and brownfields, for solar development. In addition, we provide a Request for Proposals (RFP) template, Lease Agreement template, and a Model Law for Counties subject to New York County Law § 215. These resources previously mentioned are materials often used by local governments when in the solar development process and are included for an advisory purpose.

Procurement Toolkit