Surveying and Mapping Best Practices for Solar Development Projects

Due in large part to aggressive renewable energy goals and the push for decarbonization, the solar industry is booming in New York State. Over the past few years, Thew Associates has served as the land surveying consultant for numerous community and utility scale solar developments throughout the United States. As with most land development projects, topographic, utility, and boundary retracement surveying and mapping are essential components for the development of a solar project. We have compiled a few items we consider to be “Best Practices” for solar development professionals when procuring professional surveying and mapping services. The first topic of discussion is General Procurement.


Some solar developers look to their environmental permitting and/or site/civil consultant to procure the surveying and mapping for a project. While it may seem convenient to have the design professional subcontract with a professional land surveyor, there are strategic advantages for the developer to retain control of the professional land surveyor.

  • Decreased Project Costs: Procuring the surveyor directly eliminates the mark-up (frequently 10%) the design professionals typically include for utilizing a subconsultant and management costs to cover the time necessary to manage the surveying subconsultant.
  • More efficient project management: Frequently, the Solar Developer is dealing with real estate issues such as parcel acquisition, creation of lease parcels, subdivisions, access and utility easements, commitments for title insurance. These items typically are legal matters that design professionals do not handle on a routine basis.
  • Eliminate the middle-man: Generally, the design professional simply acts as an intermediary conveying information between the Developer and the Surveyor.

Watch for our next topics regarding topography, UAV LiDAR and ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys for Solar Developments.


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