Clean Energy, Climate Change & Sustainability
A significant focus in the initiative to combat climate change is the growing interest in the development of alternative and renewable sources of energy. Most of the electricity used to light our streets, run our homes and power industry is generated by the combustion of coal and natural gas. Likewise, most of the world’s transportation sector, including airlines, shipping and motorized freight, cannot operate without liquid fossil fuels.
One way to reduce carbon emissions associated with the combustion of fuels is to replace coal and natural gas with renewable electric-generating capacity — such as wind, solar, biomass or possibly geothermal — and to replace liquid fossil fuels with renewable alternatives — such as ethanol, butanol, bio- or renewable diesel or renewable petroleum products produced by aqueous phase reformulation.
We have significant experience in this new and creative wave of energy generation as follows:
- Advising clients regarding the development of five large wind farm projects located in Wisconsin, Illinois and Arizona, including:
- Assisting a large investor-owned utility to obtain a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the Wisconsin Public Service Commission for the construction of an 88-turbine, 145-MW wind farm in Wisconsin. As part of this process, we identified required federal, state and municipal approvals.
- Providing due diligence to the lender underwriting the construction of a 133-turbine, 200-MW wind farm in Wisconsin, which also included an evaluation of the need for and completeness of efforts to obtain relevant federal, state and local approvals.
- Preparing the application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the Wisconsin Public Service Commission for a proposed 90-turbine, 207-MW facility, making the case that the proposed generating capacity is the most cost-effective way to achieve compliance with a state Renewable Portfolio Standard.
- Performing due diligence for the primary lender for a large wind farm project in southeastern Arizona.
- Representing a wind farm developer in connection with a challenge to a proposed wind farm in Illinois based on Endangered Species Act and Migratory Bird Treaty Act concerns.
- Providing the real estate, environmental, financing, tax and regulatory legal support for the construction and operation of a solar generation facility adjacent to a gas turbine power plant in southern Arizona.
- Preparing the preliminary environmental legal analysis for the siting of a large solar power plant on an Indian reservation in northwestern Arizona.
- Providing the licensing and other environmental legal support for the construction and operation of a large cogeneration power plant in the area of Yuma, Arizona.
- Assisting a developer in identifying the necessary permits and other approvals for the construction of a 45 MW thermal solar power project in Arizona.
- Assisting a developer in navigating the approval process under tribal laws, to approve the construction and operation of a thermal solar addition to an existing electric generating station located on tribal land.
- Assisting a utility in identifying necessary regulatory approvals relating to the conversion of an existing 40-MW coal-fired power plant to combust 100% biomass and providing advice relating to obtaining an air pollution control permit for that facility.
- Providing environmental and public utility regulatory advice for the construction of a biomass-fueled power plant to be located adjacent to an existing manufacturing facility, which will consume the electricity or steam energy generated by the biomass plant.
- Assisting with the development of an Arizona venture utilizing a proprietary method for conversion of waste and virgin vegetable oils to biodiesel, including:
- Identifying and obtaining necessary environmental permits.
- Obtaining two rounds of corporate financing for construction and operation of the initial production facility.
- Providing ongoing corporate legal advice.
- Advising a 40 million gallon nameplate ethanol plant and a 110 million gallon nameplate ethanol plant in Wisconsin, which — in addition to ethanol — produce wet and dry distiller’s grains, corn germ, bran and condensed distiller solubles as well as carbon dioxide. Our representation includes advice regarding:
- Formation of the companies and preparation of organizational documents, including agreements among the owners as to equity and governance.
- Debt financing for the companies, which has included senior construction loans, an industrial development bond issue and working capital facilities.
- Construction and engineering contracts in connection with the construction of the plants.
- Environmental issues, including review of air permits and addressing Notice of Violation issued to the facilities.
- Numerous commercial contracts, including contracts with the ethanol, carbon dioxide and by-product marketers; license agreements (including a license agreement for a corn fractionation plant) and various leases and other commercial contracts.
- Tax advice concerning the construction of the plant and ongoing operations.
- Assisting clients in obtaining patent protection for clean energy inventions, including:
- Prosecuting patent applications for aqueous reformulation technologies to produce petroleum alternatives directly from sugar-containing feedstocks.
- Prosecuting patent applications relating to solar troughs, bacterial fuel cells and liquefaction of carbon waste products.
- Assisting public bodies in applying for IRS Clean Renewable Energy Bond (“CREB”) credit allocations and serving as bond counsel for debt issuances to finance CREB-qualifying projects, which include wind, geothermal, solar, landfill/trash and biomass projects.
- Reviewing and negotiating power purchase agreements for renewable power generators and purchasers for wind, solar and biomass.
- Advising on issues relating to work authorization, foreign travel, green card sponsorship and fast-track processes for highly educated and highly skilled foreign national renewable energy experts, managers and executives.
These examples reflect our ability to guide a project from concept to completion or to work on individual components like project financing, intellectual property rights, commercial contracts and environmental permits.
For more information on how our renewable energy lawyers in our Clean Energy, Climate Change and Sustainability Group can help you address issues related to Renewable Energy, please contact Ave Bie at (608) 283-2441 /
or your local Quarles & Brady attorney.