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Join us for this special event for CCE Educators!

Ag & Solar Summit 2021

Join fellow CCE educators to learn all about new large-scale solar developments, which bring both opportunities and concerns to farmers and others across the state. The Ag & Solar Summit is free to all CCE educators and will be held online via Zoom on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 4th and 5th, from 9am to 12:30pm each dayThis event is intended for CCE educators—to provide them with the basic knowledge they need to help the various community stakeholders they work with, as well as the tools to know where to turn for additional information or resources. See the full agenda, below, followed by presenter bios.

Register at: to receive the Zoom link for the Summit. If you are unable to attend but would like a recording of the sessions, please register and you will be provided with a video link and presentation slides a few days after the event.

The Summit is being organized by a working group of CCE educators and Cornell faculty and staff. Questions about the Summit may be directed to Guillermo Metz or David Kay, Community and Energy Program Work Team co-chairs, at or The working group is also currently coordinating a resource clearinghouse on the subject of ag and solar and other related land-use issues. If you would like to stay connected to this group, join the listserv by sending an e-mail to "" with the single word "join" in the subject line.

Day 1, May 4th

Time Topic Presenter(s)

Welcome & Topic Overview
Overview of solar development in NY: state goals, public perception, and comparison to other ag land pressures.

Guillermo Metz

Solar Siting Considerations
An overview of how CCE educators can help farmers determine whether land is suitable for solar development.

George Frantz

Evaluating a Farm's Business Options
Presentation evaluates the farm diversification opportunities, financial modeling for leasing options, and how to help farmers assess their options.

Daniel Brockett

Community & Regional Impacts of Solar
An overview of the economic impact on the local and state level.

Peter Woodbury & David Kay

Day 2, May 5th





Open Discussion -- what are you dealing with?

Facilitated discussion between CCE educators on their experiences, concerns and thoughts on this topic.

Dana Havas

Farm Land Leasing Considerations
Presentation on what landowners should consider on a lease and what it means for ag tax exemptions.

Shannon Ferrell & John Zukowski

Municipal Planning Considerations
Presentation on the role of comprehensive plans, zoning, and engaging CCE stakeholders.

David Kay

Agrivoltaics -- CoSiting Opportunities
A few short presentations will provide an overview of grazing, pollinators, and crops as a way to continue ag development in a solar field.

Niko Kochendoerfer, Steve Grodsky, & Zara Dowling


Guillermo Metz is the Energy & Climate Change Team Leader with CCETompkins, where he leads programs that focus on giving people the tools they need to reduce their energy use and transition off fossil fuels. Guillermo Co-Chairs the Community & Energy Program Work Team and is one of the Summit organizers.

George Frantz, Associate Professor in Cornell University's Department of City and Regional Planning, has taught planning field workshop classes in communities ranging from the Ninth Ward of New Orleans to Catskill Mountain resort towns. His primary areas of expertise are in urban design and comprehensive land-use planning and zoning, with particular emphasis on addressing the needs of agriculture and the protection of environmentally sensitive lands.

Daniel Brockett is with the Penn State Extension Energy Education Team. He lectures and teaches on energy development, the economics driving the energy development process, the process and politics of energy development, and the associated impacts to communities, businesses, agriculture, land, and people.

Peter Woodbury, Senior Research Associate in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at Cornell University, works with multi-disciplinary teams to develop and use different kinds of models to quantify the sustainability of agricultural and forest ecosystems, including effects of land management practices. Among other research, he is part of a Cornell team working on a 3-year study looking at how agriculture-to-energy land-use conversions—putting solar panels or wind turbines on arable farmland—could impact food production, energy prices, water quality and resilience to changes in climate. 

David Kay, Senior Extension Associate in Cornell's Department of Global Development, provides leadership for programming in the areas of energy, land use, community development and regional economics. David previously worked on the socio-economic impacts of oil and gas extraction; his focus areas now include issues for local governments and communities hosting large-scale solar electric facilities. David is a Summit organizer and Co-Chair of the Community & Energy Program Work Team.

Dana Havas is the Agriculture Team Leader for CCECortland, where she helps agricultural producers to build more sustainable businesses by addressing issues and concerns by identifying and implementing CCE educational and programming opportunities. She is a Summit organizer.

Shannon Ferrell is a Professor in the Department of Ag Economics at Oklahoma State University, where he specializes in agricultural law. 

John Zukowski, Vice President at Emminger, Newton, Pigeon, Magyar, Inc., is a real estate appraiser. He has taught for the Appraisal Institute, NYS Assessors Association and the International Institute of Assessing Officers.

Niko Kochendoerfer is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Animal Science at Cornell University. She is currently leading a multiyear research project on a 50+ acre solar farm looking at the effect of sheep density on pollinators and soil carbon. 

Steve Grodsky is an Assistant Professor in Cornell University's Department of Natural Resources & the Environment, specializing in the emerging field of renewable energy ecology. He is the Co-founder/Co-director of the Wild Energy Initiative at the John Muir Institute of the Environment at UC Davis, an interdisciplinary effort looking at how to meet energy needs for humans while maintaining Earth’s ecosystems that humans depend on. 

Zara Dowling is a Research Fellow with UMass Clean Energy Extension, where her work focuses on addressing wildlife and land use issues associated with renewable energy development, as well as community-level planning for solar development and carbon neutrality.

Last updated May 3, 2021