Prior mortgages are typical due diligence items in the real estate title review process for renewable energy projects. Resolving issues related to prior mortgages is key to establishing a title policy that is satisfactory to lenders and investors while also protecting the project company’s real property assets. The following serves as an introduction to prior mortgages and the mechanisms for resolving them, but every project is unique, so the path forward will necessarily vary from project to project. While the process can be tricky, there are some key strategies that can keep the title curative and development process on track.
Continue Reading Resolving Prior Mortgage Issues on Greenfield Renewable Energy Projects

During the course of any acquisition of a renewable energy project, the parties may be required to obtain consents from certain of the counterparties to the project contracts. This will be the case if a project contract includes a clause that requires the consent of the counterparty for (i) the assignment of such project contract, and/or (ii) the direct or indirect change of control of a party to the contract. The procurement of such consents can be time intensive, cause delays to a project sale, and expose a project to additional obligations if not addressed from the outset. For renewable energy projects, often times, major project contracts (e.g., revenue agreements, interconnection agreements, equipment supply agreements, etc.) include anti-assignment and/or change of control clauses.
Continue Reading M&A Time and Cost-Saving Measures: Third Party Consents in Project Development

Earlier this year, the American Land Title Association (ALTA) and the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) implemented the revised 2021 Minimum Standard Detail Requirements (“2021 Standards”) for surveys. If a contract to provide an ALTA/NSPS survey is executed after February 23, 2021, the survey must comply with the updated 2021 Standards.
Continue Reading The 2021 ALTA/NSPS Survey Standards Impact on Renewable Energy Projects

As more renewable energy projects are being developed across the United States, the number of projects in areas that contain active oil and gas and mining operations continues to rise. In the beginning stages of greenfield development projects, the oil and gas and mining operations affecting parcels within the site plan is sometimes overlooked, and if not addressed, these types of interests and operations can cause significant delays and costs when developing and financing a new project. However, some initial research and due diligence at the beginning of a greenfield development project can usually protect the project from these types of issues and costs and assure the project can stay on schedule and budget.
Continue Reading A Time and Cost Saving Measure: Researching Oil and Gas and Mining Operations During the Beginning Stages of Greenfield Renewable Energy Development Projects

In order for renewable energy projects to gain traction on a larger scale in the United States, significant investments need to go into building the required underlying infrastructure, including a green sustainable grid across the country.

Eminent domain, the government’s right to expropriate private property for public use with just compensation, has historically been the go-to tool for the fossil fuel industry to build and expand its vast network of pipelines by obtaining the parcels of land needed to build the pipeline. Eminent domain is a controversial concept and has been a popular target for environmentalists looking to slow the expansion of the fossil fuel pipelines.  Recent examples include the PennEast Pipeline, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Continue Reading Eminent Domain as Climate Policy: From a Target to a Potential Tool for Expanding Renewable Energy Projects

As greenfield development continues to grow, the title industry is facing increasing demand resulting in higher price tags and longer turnaround time for early stage title work. While it may have been common practice to wait until nearly all site control agreements were complete and a close-to-final site plan was in hand before requesting title commitments, this approach is no longer ideal.
Continue Reading Early Engagement with Title Companies Key to Successful Greenfield Development

Texas property owners are becoming more knowledgeable on renewable energy as wind and solar projects continue to thrive in the state of Texas. In the early stages of renewable development, leases were not heavily negotiated and were executed swiftly, at little cost to developers. Today, the expectation is quite different.
Continue Reading Increased Landowner Sophistication Ramps Up Lease Negotiations in Texas

A recent Texas case, Lyle v. Midway Solar, S.W. 3d, 2020 WL 7769632 (Tex. App. Ct., El Paso 83rd Dist. 2020), addressed a challenge that many solar developers wrestle with: how to handle mineral owners. The El Paso Court of Appeals clarified this complex issue and demonstrated the importance of properly addressing the minerals on a site prior to developing a project.

Key Takeaways for Renewable Energy Developers:

This is an important case that renewable energy developers can look to in assessing the minerals on a project site. First, the court actually acknowledged that Texas was a leader in energy and produced the largest share of oil and gas, but that public policy favors adding renewable energy sources into the State’s energy portfolio, which is a great development for renewable energy developers. This case focuses on the conflict between the surface/solar owner and mineral owner/developer, which is always an issue especially for solar developers. The opinion does not address any fact-specific analysis that must be performed when applying the accommodation doctrine, but it 1) does help confirm that the accommodation doctrine does apply when the deed/contract does not address the uses of the surface, 2) sets when the application of the accommodation doctrine should be used, and 3) shows the importance of obtaining any agreements from the proper parties before filing them of record.
Continue Reading Mineral Owner vs. Solar Company: New Texas Case Addresses Key Issue