Solar Power

Our Energy and Renewables Team has extensive experience guiding solar energy projects and representing stakeholders in all issues related to solar energy.

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A Seasoned Partner in Guiding Solar Projects to Fruition

Development of solar energy projects creates traditional and unique project development challenges. Our Energy and Renewables team has extensive experience guiding solar energy projects and representing stakeholders in all issues related to solar energy, including project development, real estate and environmental matters. We have a deep understanding of statewide, regional and local regulations, ordinances and processes, and have a track record of guiding projects to completion on time and on budget.

As the demand for green energy solutions continues to grow, so do new opportunities in this corner of the renewable energy industry. Phillips Lytle’s experience with solar energy projects has allowed us to oversee projects that have redeveloped over 700 acres of brownfields for solar energy projects. Our representation of solar clients covers issues such as lease agreements, environmental reviews, issues related to installing solar panels and more. Conversely, tax credit programs and government incentives open new doors for companies and other businesses seeking to support renewable energy and enter the solar energy industry.

Solar Energy Regulatory Experience

Thanks to our extensive experience in siting energy projects, our attorneys are well-equipped to navigate the current Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES) process. Our work with solar energy projects includes meeting complex framework of Public Service Commission (PSC) requirements in addition to those set by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) which govern brownfields and landfills.

Our team has significant experience with the NYSDEC Brownfield Cleanup Program and with siting solar projects on brownfields. Our background with brownfield development for solar projects helps developers navigate potential environmental risks while repurposing the land. Similarly, our experience with landfills includes the necessary agency interactions specific to landfill closure, plus crucial liability protections related to redeveloping landfills.

Solar Energy Incentives and Taxation

Our long history of representing solar energy development has included guiding clients through the complex and often competitive process of qualifying for solar incentives and tax matters. Solar power project development incentives are offered through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA); the popular MW Block Program is one which can provide positive impacts for a project’s economics. Our attorneys are well versed in ensuring a project not only meets the program requirements, but also demonstrates to NYSERDA that a project is deserving of the funding.

Additionally, our Energy and Renewables attorneys have assisted numerous clients with projects that require navigating the common challenges which arise in PILOT negotiations. Our attorneys also aid in the necessary planning to minimize a project’s tax burden, should it be required.

Real Estate and Land Use for Solar Projects

Phillips Lytle has a deep bench of Land Use, Permitting and Zoning attorneys who have specific experience developing solar projects. Our attorneys have successfully navigated the zoning process for solar projects in more than 37 municipalities throughout New York State. Our experience with land use, permitting and zoning includes rezoning, site plan reviews, special use permits, subdivision applications and variances. We guide projects through local zoning requirements and processes to get to approvals on schedule.

Our team assists in handling virtually all real estate aspects of project development. This includes acquisition of necessary land interests and due diligence. We have vast experience in all aspects of real estate and can help clients quickly and efficiently navigate a variety of transactions.

Additionally, our attorneys have experience negotiating substantive project conditions within the zoning context, such as negotiation of financial incentives, decommissioning requirements and project bonds.

Phillips Lytle attorneys have extensive experience counseling clients on the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) for solar projects and other real estate matters. We have experience with inner-agency dynamics and the proper approach for handling environmental conditions on any site. We are also well versed in SEQRA’s procedural requirements and can ensure the process is completed both efficiently and in accordance with the letter of the law.

Solar Leases

Phillips Lytle Energy and Renewables attorneys have extensive experience assisting clients with drafting and negotiating solar leases. We utilize our deep background in negotiating leases and navigating land use agreements through the experience and knowledge of our Real Estate attorneys to guide clients through the leasing process as part of a solar power development.

Power Purchase Agreements and Solar Energy Clients

The Energy and Renewables attorneys at Phillips Lytle have represented numerous clients in traditional and virtual power purchase agreement negotiations and interconnection contracts. Our work is comprised of structuring, negotiating and executing power purchase agreements.

We take care to adhere to any applicable state or federal laws which govern green energy and solar projects. This often includes close work with federal agencies that may have additional oversight related to certain projects or selected sites. We apply our extensive experience to meet the expectations of all parties involved and to stay ahead of any regulatory requirements that will need to be met as part of our clients’ projects.

Solar Power Representation

Phillips Lytle has represented a host of solar energy projects throughout New York State. Our work has taken us from Long Island to the Buffalo-Niagara region. We have:
  • Represented a real estate investment trust (REIT) on structuring leases and power purchase agreements for solar energy installations on multiple storage facilities in multiple states.
  • Represented the developer of a 4 MW brownfield solar project. Representation included environmental, land use and regulatory compliance matters, as well as coordination with NYSERDA and the utility on real estate and regulatory issues. Our team also assisted with negotiations on power purchase and PILOT agreements, as well as due diligence work related to the sale of the project.
  • Represented the developer of a $19 million solar project on the site of a former steel plant. Our work involved real estate, land use and environmental aspects, including review of title coordinating the issuance of a lender’s title insurance policy and revisions to solar lease agreements. Our Energy and Renewables attorneys also handled transfers to certificates of completion obtained through the Brownfield Cleanup Program.
  • Represented the developer of three solar projects on a brownfield site, the site of a former oil refinery and a petroleum storage tank farm. Our team assisted with all land use approvals including special use permits, site plan approval, area variance and subdivision.
  • Represented the developer of a 6 MW total solar energy production facility on a closed municipal landfill. We assisted with all land use approvals and NYSDEC approvals for the redevelopment of the landfill.
  • Represented the developer of a 5 MW solar project involving the development of former timberlands. Our attorneys assisted with obtaining all necessary zoning approvals, including rezoning, special use permits, site plan approval and the SEQRA process. We also negotiated financial incentives with the municipality.
  • Represented a developer in the development of two contiguous solar projects. The projects totaled approximately 10 MW and were sited on several contiguous parcels over an approximately 1.22-acre area of land with significant natural features. Our team handled all land use and zoning work for the project including application strategy, preparation of application materials, guidance through the SEQRA process and representation before the town’s planning board, board of trustees and negotiation with the town and town attorney.
  • Represented a solar energy project developer on the development and siting of its power and storage project, including application for a grant.
  • Represented a global solar energy project developer with complex New York regulatory matters, as well as drafting and negotiation of power purchase agreements, lease drafting and negotiations, as well as title review.
  • Represented an investor in renewable energy projects with contract drafting and negotiations and project due diligence, including Public Service Commission, environmental and zoning regulatory counsel.

Meet Our Solar Power Team

Dennis W. Elsenbeck Head of Energy and Sustainability, Energy Consulting Services
David Flynn
David P. Flynn Partner
Lindsey E. Haubenreich Partner
Adam D. Herron Associate
Diana E. Konik Associate
Kimberly R. Nason Partner
Thomas Puchner
Thomas F. Puchner Partner
Dennis W. Elsenbeck Head of Energy and Sustainability, Energy Consulting Services
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