On June 8, 2022, the Public Utility Commission of Texas (“Commission”) filed a memo from its Infrastructure Division requesting that electric utilities, power generation companies, municipally owned utilities, and electric cooperatives (“Entities”) operating outside of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (“ERCOT”) provide to Commission Staff unredacted copies of their Emergency Operations Plans (“EOP”). Entities that operate both outside of the ERCOT power region and in the ERCOT power region, and entities that operate solely in the ERCOT power region and have already provided an unredacted EOP to ERCOT (as required by the Emergency Operations Plan rule (16 TAC §25.53), are not required to provide the Staff an unredacted EOP.
Continue Reading Public Utility Commission Requests Unredacted Emergency Operations Plans From All Applicable Entities by June 24, 2022

It has been almost a year since Texas’ Lone Star Infrastructure Protection Act (“LIPA”) was signed into law by Governor Abbott on June 18, 2021, and took effect. In the past year, we have seen developers, tax investors, and purchasers of renewable energy projects alike address compliance with LIPA in varied ways.
Continue Reading A Year Out: Renewable Energy Developer and Investor Compliance with the Texas Lone Star Infrastructure Protection Act

The Texas Supreme Court (“TXSC”) recently confirmed what many already know: the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (“TCEQ”) has only administrative authority related to water rights in Texas. This means that water rights ownership disputes must utilize Texas courts to adjudicate water rights ownership.
Continue Reading Texas Supreme Court Water Law Verdict Highlights Lack of TCEQ Authority Over Water Rights

Companies with ESG policies – including financing parties investing in renewable energy projects – should assess the impact of Texas Senate Bill 19 on their government contracting opportunities, and should expect and prepare for heightened state regulation of corporate firearm policies in the future.

Effective September 1, 2021, Texas Senate Bill 19 prohibits government entities from contracting with companies that have policies that restrict business with the firearms industry. The bill specifically targets banks and other financial institutions that have at least ten employees and are seeking government contracts of at least $100,000. Under the bill, such institutions are required to provide written verification that they do not have practices, policies, guidance, or directives that “discriminate” against a firearm entity or firearm trade association.
Continue Reading The Government Contracting and Energy Implications of Texas Senate Bill 19: Navigating State Regulation of Corporate Firearm Policies

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

When beginning a solar project in Texas, developers must be cognizant of the potential conflict between the surface and mineral estates. In Texas, mineral rights can be severed from the surface estate, and when severed, the mineral estate rights are dominant, meaning the mineral estate has the implied right to use as much of the surface, subsurface, and adjacent airspace of the land as is reasonably necessary to locate and develop the mineral estate beneath. This right can cause complications for solar developers if not properly addressed.

This blog post focuses on the preemptive steps a solar developer should take to protect its project from impacts by oil and gas operations.

Continue Reading Texas Solar Energy Projects: Avoiding Mineral Issues

Lawmakers of the 86th Texas Legislature passed several bills in regular session related to storage and cybersecurity, as well as a bill extending the expiration of a Chapter 312 tax abatement program that benefits renewable energy. These energy-related bills passed by the Texas Legislature are discussed below, as are notable bills that failed to gain traction this session.

Continue Reading Bills Related to Storage and Cybersecurity and Other Energy Issues Signed into Law After Close of 86th Texas Legislature’s Regular Session

By the time the March 8, 2019 bill filing deadline for the 86th Texas Legislature passed, many bills concerning the electric industry had been filed. Storage, cybersecurity of the electric grid, and capital project tax abatements are among the energy issues Texas lawmakers are considering. This reviews the major filed bills before the current Texas Legislature.

Continue Reading 86th Texas Legislature to Consider Bills Concerning Cybersecurity and Storage, Among Other Electric Industry Issues