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Solar-Use Easements

Senate Bill 618

Senate Bill 618 (Statutes of 2011, Chapter 596) authorizes the parties to a Land Conservation (Williamson) Act or Farmland Security Zone contract, after an eligibility determination and management plan review, to mutually agree to rescind a contract (or a portion of) in order to simultaneously enter into a solar-use easement.  The new easement would require that the land be used for solar photovoltaic facilities for a term of 20 years, or if the landowner requests, for a term of not less than 10 years. 

Please see Senate Bill 618 – Advice for Applicants, Cities, and Counties, an advice paper created by the Department to assist local jurisdictions and the public with the process.

Department Regulations

The Department of Conservation established procedures, fees, standards, and criteria for solar-use easements, under regulations adopted early in 2014 (Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations).  The regulations clarify SB 618 language and the Department’s role in implementing the solar-use easement statute.  Through these procedures, solar-use easement agreements may be approved between cities or counties and agricultural landowners that are parties to Land Conservation and Farmland Security Zone Act contracts. 

The official text of the SB 618 Department Regulations, the Statement of Reasons, and the Addendum to the Statement of Reasons are available. 

For more information regarding the rulemaking process, please refer to the Office of Administrative Law.

Rescission Fees

Beginning January 1, 2015, Assembly Bill 2241 will take effect.  The bill establishes a new distribution formula for rescission fees assessed on solar-use easements, until January 1, 2020.  The rescission fee for removal of the contract and reentry into a solar-use easement will be 10% of the fair market value of the property for land under a Williamson Act contract or Farmland Security Zone.  The bill also requires that only 50% of the rescission fees collected are to be deposited in the State General Fund.  Please see the Legislative Amendments page for the text of the bill or contact us with any questions.

Additional Information

For additional information regarding Solar-Use Easements, or the Williamson Act Program, please call (916) 324-0850, or email dlrp@conservation.ca.gov.