Experience

Verrill Helps Hancock Solar Project Obtain MDEP Permit, Protect Upland Sandpipers

The 14-megawatt Hancock Solar project in the town of Hancock, Maine has obtained its Site Law permit from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

Verrill assisted the project with environmental permitting, which included the challenge of locating the 58-acre array entirely on blueberry barrens that function as prime habitat for upland sandpipers, a threatened species under the Maine Endangered Species Act. Verrill helped negotiate a mitigation package that will preserve a large tract of high-value upland sandpiper habitat near the project site. The 311-acre mitigation parcel will ensure continued nesting grounds for the sandpipers in Maine, which migrate every year from South America to breed. It was also the critical and final step in getting the project permitted.

Project construction is expected to begin in April 2021. The Maine Public Utilities Commission estimates that the project will save Maine ratepayers $4.4 million over 20 years. Hancock Solar is a joint venture between Maine-based Dirigo Solar and Dublin, Ireland-based BNRG Renewables.

Longroad Energy

Verrill represents Longroad Energy (“Longroad”) on its renewable energy work in Maine. Longroad is a Boston, MA-headquartered renewable energy company that develops and operates wind and solar energy projects throughout North America. Verrill has represented Longroad and its related predecessors in the development, permitting and construction of more than 500 megawatts of renewable energy in Maine. Verrill currently represents Longroad on the development and permitting of a significant number of grid-scale solar energy projects in Maine. Verrill represented Longroad on the successful development and permitting of the Weaver Wind project in Maine, which includes more than 5,000 acres of mitigation land to provide habitat for migratory songbirds.

Swift Current Energy

Verrill represents the 100-megawatt Three Rivers Solar Project in Hancock County, Maine. Verrill assists the project with real estate and environmental permitting work, including negotiation of a protocol to allow the project to proceed while minimizing potential impacts to upland sandpipers, a state-listed threatened species. The project obtained its combined Site Law and Natural Resources Protection Act permit from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection in July 2020. Three Rivers Solar will become the largest solar project in the state, twice the size of the next largest facility (the 50 MW Sanford Airport Solar project). The project will consist of approximately 300,000 to 400,000 solar panels on 465 acres in the unorganized area of the state.

Shoreland Zone Development and Land Use

Verrill represents landowners and developers in siting structures in the shoreland zone and ensuring compliance with the restrictions that govern shoreland zone clearing and development. We have worked with numerous landowners to resolve enforcement matters related to tree clearing and placement of structures on oceanfront and lakefront properties. We have worked on behalf of developers to get towns to amend their shoreland zoning ordinances to allow development proceed around otherwise prohibitive wetlands.

Water and Wastewater: Verrill Helps Gardiner Water District Secure Land for a New Water Tank

For roughly one year, Verrill worked with longtime client Gardiner Water District, and its engineering firm Wright-Pierce, to secure land to allow the Water District to construct a one million gallon water tank in Farmingdale. The tank, which will help improve water pressure and the future integration of the Gardiner and Hallowell Water Districts, will be located on the former Kennebec Heights Country Club, which property was purchased by Central Maine Power as part of its Maine Power Reliability Program transmission project. The Verrill team helped the District negotiate with Central Maine Power to acquire the land and finalize the terms of the acquisition. The team also helped the District work with the Maine Drinking Water Program, which is financing a portion of the project using State Revolving Loan Funds. On May 5th, the Drinking Water Program hosted a celebration of project, which represented the 200 millionth dollar of funds disbursed through the SRF program. Verrill helped with the planning of the event, which was chronicled by the Kennebec Journal. The final closing took place approximately two months later.

Bingham Wind Project

Verrill's environmental team successfully permitted the Bingham Wind project, which at 185 MW is the largest wind power project in New England. The project includes fifty-six 3.3 MW Vestas turbines, a transmission line, an O&M building, meteorological towers, and access roads and crane paths, which collectively required permits from the Department of Environmental Protection, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the towns of Bingham, Parkman and Abbott. Verrill continues to work with the project owner to ensure the long-term success of the project.

Champion of Wind Energy Projects

Verrill successfully permitted eleven wind power projects in Maine with an installed capacity of more than 1,000 MW. The team shepherded projects through the Land Use Regulation Commission, Department of Environmental Protection, Army Corps of Engineers, and multiple towns where project elements are located.

In the Bingham Wind project, Verrill permitted a 17 mile generator lead line that traversed organized and unorganized jurisdiction in Maine. The permits included a federal Army Corps of Engineers Section 404 permit, Maine Department of Environmental Protection Site Law and NRPA permits, as well as several local permits.

In the Saddleback Ridge Wind project, Verrill assisted Patriot Renewables in permitting 9.5 miles of generator lead in the towns of Carthage, Dixfield and Canton, Maine. The permits included a federal Army Corps of Engineers Section 404 permit, Maine Department of Environmental Protection Site Location and NRPA permits, utility location permits from the Maine DOT and the Town of Carthage, and a building permit from the Town of Dixfield.

Solar Energy: Acquisition of Grid-Scale Project in Brunswick, Maine

Verrill represented Diversified Communications in the acquisition of a newly built $2.5 million solar array in Brunswick, Maine. The array, which was developed by ReVision Energy and went online in January 2018, will provide power to more than 100 businesses at Brunswick Landing. Verrill attorneys advised Diversified Communications on a range of issues in the transaction, including federal debt financing, solar investment tax credits, solar renewable energy credits, electric power sales, EPC contracting, and regulatory, real estate and corporate matters. We worked collaboratively with Diversified Communications and the developer of the project to get the deal done on a short timeline while minimizing investment risk.

LUPC Ruling Reversal

We obtained a reversal of a 10-year-old Land Use Planning Commission ruling for a Moosehead Lake landowner. The new determination found that the landowner's property was consistent with LUPC rules and allowed the client to convey his family camp to another family member. Without our advocacy, LUPC's position was that the client's property did not meet dimensional requirements and was not saleable. Verrill Dana attorneys also handled the landowner's real estate transactions and probate issues related to the camp, including confirmation of water access rights.

Multi-Disciplinary Representation in Mill Purchase and Regulatory Compliance

We represented the buyer in the acquisition of Domtar Maine LLC, which owns and operates the pulp mill in Baileyville, Maine (also known as Woodland), and continue to represent the mill in regulatory compliance matters. The mill produces about 395,000 metric tons of pulp a year, and is Washington County's largest employer with about 300 employees. It also has significant hydroelectric generating assets, with surplus power being sold to New Brunswick Power.

Verrill acted as co-counsel with O'Melveny & Myers.

Our representation included extensive due diligence and contract negotiation, and we relied upon our extensive experience in real estate, pension and benefits, labor and employment (several unions are involved with the mill), energy (including FERC), environmental law, commercial finance, tax and intellectual property.

Penobscot River Restoration Trust: Project Management

The Penobscot River Restoration Project is one of the largest and most creative river restoration projects in our nation's history. The nonprofit Penobscot River Restoration Trust ("the Penobscot Trust") has worked in collaboration with the Penobscot Indian Nation, seven conservation groups, state and federal agencies, and dam owner Black Bear Hydro Partners LLP, to implement the project to restore 11 species of sea-run fish to the Penobscot River, while also maintaining energy production.* In 2015, the Trust has neared completion of the final stages of this 12-year endeavor. Verrill congratulates all those involved in this historic project.

Successful implementation of the project has revived not only native fisheries but social, cultural and economic traditions of New England's second largest river—the Penobscot. The Penobscot Trust has acquired three Penobscot dams, holds necessary final permits, and is preparing to remove the two closest to the sea – Veazie and Great Works – and construct a fish bypass at the third dam, Howland. At the same time, Black Bear Hydro is, as part of the project, increasing power generation and improving fish passage at several other dams on the river to maintain or increase generating capacity in the system.

Through this reconfiguration of fish migration access and power production, the Penobscot Project has significantly improved access to nearly 1,000 miles of habitat and restore ecological functions of the river while also maintaining hydropower capacity of the river system. Further information regarding this historic project can be found on the Trust's website, www.penobscotriver.org.

Verrill has been pleased to assist the Trust since 2006 with all phases of the restoration project, including drafting of the commercial agreements, national, state and local permitting and regulatory compliance for the decommissioning and removal activities, as well as assistance with strategic planning and dispute resolution. Attorneys from multiple practices, including corporate, real estate, environmental, regulatory, construction, energy and utilities coordinated a multi-disciplinary approach to supporting the Trust's goals and objectives. As a commitment of Verrill to bringing its experience to matters of significant public interest, Verrill contributed extensive in-kind legal assistance to the Penobscot Trust.

* The project has been an uncommonly effective collaboration including PPL Corporation; Black Bear Hydro Partners LLC; Penobscot Indian Nation; the Penobscot Trust, American Rivers, Atlantic Salmon Federation, Maine Audubon, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Trout Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, federal agencies including the U. S. Department of the Interior [Bureau of Indian Affairs; National Park Service; and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)] and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); the State of Maine including the State Planning Office, Department of Marine Resources and Inland Fisheries and Wildlife; as well as private and public funders; communities; businesses; and numerous others.

Purchaser Representation: 300,000 Acre Timberland Deal

We represented the purchaser in the acquisition of more than 300,000 acres of timberland in Northern Maine, including negotiation of purchase and sale agreement, entity formation, tax advice, loan representation, environmental due diligence and ongoing operational assistance.

Waste Management: Solid Waste and Air Permitting

We represented Waste Management on the solid waste and air permitting associated with its Crossroads landfill in Norridgewock, Maine, including the permitting of its landfill gas to energy facility located there. We provide ongoing regulatory compliance counsel to Waste Management in its operation of Crossroads, the only remaining commercial landfill in Maine.

Wind Generator Lead Lines

In the Kibby Wind project, Verrill permitted 27 miles of generator lead line that traversed both organized and unorganized jurisdictions in Maine. The permits included a federal Army Corps of Engineers Section 404 permit, Maine Department of Environmental Protection Site Location and NRPA permits, and Maine Land Use Regulation Commission approvals.

In the Stetson Wind project, Verrill permitted 38 miles of generator lead line that traversed both organized and unorganized jurisdictions in Maine. The permits included a federal Army Corps of Engineers Section 404 permit and Maine Department of Environmental Protection Site Law and NRPA permits.

In the Oakfield Wind project, Verrill permitted 56 miles of generator lead line that traversed both organized and unorganized jurisdictions in Maine. The permits included a federal Army Corps of Engineers Section 404 permit, Maine Department of Environmental Protection Site Law and NRPA permits, as well as several local permits.

In the Bingham Wind project, Verrill permitted a 17 mile generator lead line that traversed organized and unorganized jurisdiction in Maine. The permits included a federal Army Corps of Engineers Section 404 permit, Maine Department of Environmental Protection Site Law and NRPA permits, as well as several local permits.

In the Saddleback Ridge Wind project, Verrill assisted Patriot Renewables in permitting 9.5 miles of generator lead in the towns of Carthage, Dixfield and Canton, Maine. The permits included a federal Army Corps of Engineers Section 404 permit, Maine Department of Environmental Protection Site Location and NRPA permits, utility location permits from the Maine DOT and the Town of Carthage, and a building permit from the Town of Dixfield.

Firm Highlights

Matter

Longroad Energy

Verrill represents Longroad Energy (“Longroad”) on its renewable energy work in Maine. Longroad is a Boston, MA-headquartered renewable energy company that develops and operates wind and solar energy projects throughout North America. Verrill has...

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