Insights with Inked

How Inked prepares site control campaigns for launch with GIS and Land Flow.

Leveraging GIS and Land Flow to make informed and strategic decisions is indispensable to Inked. GIS helps select optimal sites, avoid costly mistakes, and streamline the acquisition and permitting process. Our proprietary software, Land Flow creates transparency and helps manage every step and milestone in a site control campaign.

Leveraging GIS and Land Flow to make informed and strategic decisions is indispensable to Inked. GIS helps select optimal sites, avoid costly mistakes, and streamline the acquisition and permitting process. Our proprietary software, Land Flow creates transparency and helps manage every step and milestone in a site control campaign.

Introduction

Developers and land professionals face numerous challenges in the renewable energy sector. They’re tasked with coordinating between multiple stakeholders, navigating regulatory and environmental hurdles, and ensuring timely project completion. Adding to their workload is the (tedious) task of sifting through extensive land-related data, detailing constraints and land availability, and managing site control campaigns. This is where Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Land Flow come into play.

GIS supports developers, land professionals, and landowners at various stages of a project’s life cycle. For developers, GIS is key to making smarter project decisions, especially as demand for solar and wind projects continues to surge while suitable land to host them becomes scarcer.

Developers frequently use GIS for site prospecting, management of acquisition campaigns, routing of gen-tie corridors, and mapping of applicable conditions to close title policies. For land professionals and their managers, GIS supports visualization of how outreach is conducted to landowners and the community.

Onto landowners, GIS helps show why their land may be a prime location for a project and can highlight specific properties or portions of properties that are most suitable for development. This transparency allows landowners to point out areas they want included or excluded from a project boundary, facilitating smoother negotiations.

Land Flow is a custom, web-based tool developed by Inked that provides transparency, accountability, and oversight to site control campaigns. We often see developers leveraging outdated spreadsheets, attempting to use CRM or similar tools to manage site control campaigns, and generally lacking awareness of the day-to-day activities of a site control campaign. For developers, Land Flow provides transparency across (i) all projects a developer is engaged in, (ii) all AOIs within a project, and (iii) all landowners within an AOI.

For land agents, Land Flow provides a single location to manage (i) landowners and their contacts, (ii) all documents related to a landowner or a property, (iii) all contract terms, and (iv) all payment terms related to a contract.

Let’s dive deeper into how GIS and Land Flow support energy and infrastructure developments.

GIS helps optimize routes, enhances negotiations, and ensures effective communication between developers, land teams, and landowners. Land Flow creates transparency across site control campaigns, outreach efforts, and contracts.

In this article, you will learn how Inked’s GIS teams get involved with projects, how Inked breaks down constraints and land availability, and how projects are set up for launch.

When Does GIS Get Involved in Renewable Energy Projects

In the renewable energy space, the typical first step to launching a project is a developer overviewing project goals (project type, megawatts or acres desired, maximum gen-tie distance, and similar project characteristics) and providing several points of interconnection (POIs) with available or anticipated availability of injection capacity. From there, Inked’s GIS team will break down areas of interest (AOIs) based on two critical categories: constraints and land availability.

Land Constraints

As demand for renewable projects continues to surge, land to host them is becoming scarcer. As a result, the line of what is and is not a constraint is becoming blurry. Historic limits on maximum slope, density of tree canopy that may need to be removed, and building in low-risk floodplains are just a few constraints that are being challenged.

Whether limits on constraints need to be challenged for a specific project or not, Inked’s goal is to secure site control in areas that have strong permitting and construction probabilities. To do this we need to be aware of hard and soft constraints that exist in an AOI. Below are some of the constraints Inked considers when initially breaking down an AOI.

  • Proximity to a POI – while closer is always better, knowing the maximum gen-tie distance that supports the economic viability of a given project type and size supports conducting effective acquisition campaigns.
  • Floodplains and Floodways – stay away from a floodway, and generally stay away from a floodplain, but the limits of permitting, insuring, and building within a floodplain are being pushed.
  • Conservation Easements – conservation easements can be challenging to deal with for any project type, but we have achieved successful negotiated outcomes in several circumstances. Most developers avoid them, and you certainly need to be aware they exist in an AOI.
  • Tree Canopy – the acceptable density of tree canopy and wooded areas varies across developers. Some even find ways to monetize (or profit share with a landowner) this perceived constraint.
  • Critical Habitat – critical habitat for protected species needs to be considered. It can limit the times of year you can construct, and/or can derail your project entirely if not accounted for.
  • Maximum Slope (if applicable) – the maximum slope (or aspect) for a solar project is often 10%. Sometimes overlooked is the direction of a slope. In the northern hemisphere, a south-facing slope (facing the sun) with a higher aspect may be more valuable.

Land Availability

Every AOI is different and requires a unique strategy to conduct an effective site control campaign. When constraints are understood, property boundaries and landowner groups need to be identified. Is targeting the largest landowner the most effective strategy, or is building momentum with smaller landowners before approaching a major landowner a better approach? A few of the many variables Inked considers are noted below.

  • Volume – how many landowners and acres are in an AOI?
  • Concentration – what landowner group, or groups of landowners, own or manage the critical or necessary acreage within an AOI?
  • Clear Path – is there a clear path to acquire right-of-way from an AOI to a POI?
  • Tiers – within our most preferred areas, what influential landowners exist?

When constraints on land availability are deemed sufficient to launch a project, Inked moves quickly to turn projects into results.

Launching a Site Control Campaign

Once constraints and land availability are broken down by GIS, coordination between several stakeholders needs to occur.

Project Management

Inked’s Project Manager will put together a strategy document detailing an execution plan. A few of the many items outlined are what milestones Inked is going to track and what outreach strategy is going to deploy.

GIS Access

Inked’s GIS team will set up a portal that Clients and all team members can reference throughout the life cycle of the project. Once complete, an export of AOIs, property owners, and relevant information will be provided to Inked’s Land Administration team. GIS also ensures information from Land Flow is pushed to the GIS portal so information matches in both locations.

Land Administration

Inked’s Land Administration team will set up the project in Land Flow, broken down by AOIs and landowners, and assignments of landowners to Land Agents. Land Technicians will start gathering contact information for the landowners assigned to Land Agents.

Land Agents Activities

Land Agents familiarize themselves with the strategy document, projects, AOIs, and landowners assigned to them.

Clients Activities

Clients overview and provide input to a strategy document, familiarize themselves with Inked’s GIS portal and Land Flow. They also provide relevant marketing materials, commercial terms, and similar resources Inked needs to conduct a successful campaign.

Summary

With our project ready for launch, we are ready to push marketing materials and commence outreach. Getting to a project launch requires coordination of several human resources, including project managers, GIS professionals, land technicians, land agents, and clients. While land businesses have generalists covering these disciplines, Inked specializes in creating efficiencies and the capability of operating at scale (i.e., various BESS, transmission, solar, and wind projects across the country). Regarding technology, the primary tools Inked leverages are GIS and Land Flow. These create transparency, insights, and shared platforms to execute site control campaigns with precision.

Want to learn more about Land Flow? Schedule a call with Troy Dixon here or email us at contact@inkedlandco.com