Renewable Energy & Project Development

Overview

Our renewable energy practice combines legal skills developed across a broad array of traditional energy projects with our pioneering work in the renewables sector. Michael Best is nationally recognized for our leadership in the biofuels industry, and we were early-stage participants in the wind, biomass, and solar energy industries.

As a result, our attorneys have experience representing clients in relatively uncharted territory, where regulatory frameworks and market conditions are not yet well established. Clients as diverse as developers, researchers, and farmer-owned cooperatives, along with electric utilities and transmission companies seeking to diversify, value our forward-thinking and multidisciplinary approach.

Wind

Michael Best has assisted clients with wind energy projects having a cumulative output of thousands of megawatts. In addition to our standard project development services, we advise on risk management issues such as the safe, reliable integration of wind resources into the existing transmission grid. Our lawyers hold key positions in the American Wind Energy Association, the industry’s principal trade association.

We are also at the forefront of the offshore wind industry, in coastal marine environments and in the Great Lakes, advising clients on specialized matters such as:

  • Securing turbine and related facilities sites on submerged lands, under the lead jurisdiction of the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) or the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Developing or licensing technology tailored to the marine environment
  • Building or chartering special vessels for facilities construction, installation, operation, and maintenance

Solar

As the solar power industry matures and its technology continues to evolve, our renewable energy team is helping clients anticipate and overcome new challenges. We represent clients in all parts of the industry, including retailers and other distributed energy generators; solar engineering, procurement, and construction contractors; and solar technology providers. Noteworthy projects include tax credit financing for the construction of a solar field, and representation of a Native American tribe pursuing commercial-scale solar production.

Biofuels & Biomass

Leading ethanol and biodiesel producers, including many early adopters of this resource, rely on Michael Best for legal guidance. We have considerable experience in the biofuels industry and represented the U.S. Department of Energy in connection with financing for the design, construction, and operation of multiple projects.

In addition, we work with emerging technology companies focused on next-generation biofuels, including those derived from cellulosic ethanol, liquid fuel waste, and algae. Our renewable energy team has assisted clients with cogeneration projects involving anaerobic digestion, for example, and with patent prosecution and intellectual property matters related to enzymes used in biofuel production.

Experience

We assist clients in the acquisition, development, financing, construction, and operation of renewable energy facilities and technologies, as well as associated commodity transactions. Our legal services encompass the following essential aspects of renewable energy projects:

  • Siting and permitting
  • Regulatory certification
  • Community relations
  • Financing arrangements
  • Tax analysis and structuring, including financial incentives such as the New Markets Tax Credit program
  • Creation and trading of renewable energy credits (RECs) and other energy/environmental credits
  • Engineering, procurement, and construction contracts
  • Operating and maintenance agreements
  • Power purchase agreements
  • Interconnection and transmission service agreements
  • Turbine supply agreements for wind projects
  • State renewable portfolio standards
  • Protection and licensing of intellectual property, such as patents for renewable energy technology, processes, or materials
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