Lease Your Rooftop for Solar Energy

Solar power — By Stephanie on September 10, 2008 at 12:07 pm

For at least a decade, real estate owners have been leasing the prime space on top of their buildings to utilities. One of the most popular uses for the vast, unused space is to lease roof area to telecommunications companies for installation of antennas, batteries and other equipment for cellular communications. The same can now be accomplished for rooftop solar energy proponents looking for space on which to install solar panels and supporting equipment.

In California, the dream is becoming a reality. California Public Utilities Commission, Southern California Edison (SCE), and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger are working to promote the use of empty roof space of commercial buildings for installation of rooftop solar energy technology equipment, including solar panels. Governor Schwarzenegger is envisioning a future in which, as he says, “commercial buildings statewide partnered with utilities …[will put] this solar technology on their rooftops, [and] it would set off a huge wave of renewable-energy growth.” Here is an example of how solar energy is working in the Golden State.

The California solar initiative encourages utilities to develop partnerships with area commercial property owners. By providing the opportunity for supplementary revenue through rent, vacant rooftops may be considered an important asset to increase property value. In turn, the utilities obtain the use of prime space for generation of rooftop solar energy without taking up ground space for equipment, or being concerned about appropriate utility zoning of bare land. Not only is it a win-win for the owners and utility companies, but its a home run for the environment.
 Lease Your Rooftop for Solar Energy

Photo from Flickr (Union Station Rooftop):

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  1. This is a great idea! Imagine a city with all its rooftops having PV modules. This step by California proves that the world is moving from huge centralized energy production centers towards a more distributed one.

  2. Naomi says:

    California Utility companies aren’t the only players in this market leasing rooftop space. Independent power producers are also in the game. Not to mention Urban Agriculture companies as well.

    Commercial, MultiFamily, Agricultural (Barn and Ranch), Warehouse (like you mention in this article), Institutional and Industrial rooftops are needed for distributed energy and urban agriculture.

    To find out more how all of these rooftops can be turned into revenue sources, you can go to

    Typically, these are not straight leases, but involve a sq. foot lease rate (varies between &0.30 and $1/sq foot) coupled with another form of creative compensation such as profit sharing (of the energy or food produced on the roof), or selling the energy and food to the building owner directly at a reduced and set price for a number of years.

  3. Scott Taylor says:

    Hi, I’m a Realtor looking for multiple large commercial rooftops to lease in Raleigh – Durham area, North Carolina for solar panels. Full proof, insured and ready to go immediately. If anyone knows of anyone with a specialty – finding owners of large roofs, 80,000 sq. ft. plus that wants to make some money, please contact me at 407-925-2526

  4. kathleen says:

    Looking for NJ Commercial rooftops 40,000 sf plus for a roof rental of .30 to $1.00 per sf per year. call 646-522-2650 for more details…

  5. Ana says:

    Looking for a cell phone or tower company that rents out roof tops for antennas … have over 2800 sq ft of open rooftop space on top of a 3 story office building in the heart of Brooklyn/Queens NY with no other large building surrounding mine looking to rent asap!
    Any iformation would be greatly appreciated…

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