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.

Appellate Practice: Coastal Property Rights in Kennebunkport

We represented coastal landowners in a high-profile appeal before the Maine Supreme Court, in which the Town of Kennebunkport claimed ownership of Goose Rocks Beach against numerous homeowners whose deeds described property down to the low water mark. The case turned on the interpretation of deeds and legal doctrines dating back to the 1600s, including the original land patents from the English Crown to Sir Fernando Gorges creating the Province of Maine. The Law Court affirmed the Superior Court judgment, finding that title to the disputed beach is held by the town. In doing so, the Court appeared to manifest its growing policy preference for greater public access to Maine’s coast, particularly its sandy beaches. Almeder v. Town of Kennebunkport, 2019 ME 151.

Aquaculture

Verrill represents both growers and coastal landowners regarding leasing and licensing of aquaculture enterprises.

Enforcement

Verrill has negotiated and litigated with federal, state, and local entities to resolve violations related to coastal development, including homes, docks, seawalls, shoreland clearing, and commercial fishing operations. We have also negotiated beach management agreements to balance coastal property rights with protection of federal and state endangered species.

Piers, Seawalls and Sand dunes

We have assisted clients in obtaining federal, state, and local regulatory approvals for seawalls, piers, boat ramps, other water-dependent structures, and dune nourishment projects up and down the coast of Maine.

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.

Environmental & Land Use Law: Protection of Private Coastal Property Rights for Conservation of Intertidal Habitat

Verrill successfully represented coastal landowners in first-impression litigation against a Canadian seaweed harvesting company with global operations to determine who owns the sea plants that are growing on private intertidal property in Maine. In March 2019, the Maine Supreme Court ruled unanimously in our clients’ favor on appeal, holding that the public does not have the right to harvest the seaweed growing on private intertidal property without the landowner’s consent. The case addressed an open question that caused controversy on the Maine coast for decades as the commercial harvest of seaweed increased dramatically. The appeal drew significant public interest and the submission of 13 separate briefs from amici curiae. Ross v. Acadian Seaplants, Ltd., 2019 ME 45, 206 A.3d 283.

Freedom of Information Law: Protection of Confidential Business Information from Public Disclosure

Verrill represented Blue Sky West, LLC, owner of the 185-MW Bingham Wind Power Project, in appeals to Maine Superior Court and the Maine Supreme Court, which revolved around the potential disclosure of confidential business information implicated in a Freedom of Access Act request made by Somerset County, Maine. On appeal, the Law Court held that the data of primary concern to our client was not a public record and therefore was shielded from disclosure. Blue Sky West, LLC v. Maine Revenue Services, 2019 ME 137.

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.

Firm Highlights

News

31 Verrill Attorneys, Across Four Offices, Recognized in 2022 Chambers & Partners Guide

Matter

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...

Blog

Maine Public Utilities Commission to Receive Bids for Northern Maine Transmission and Renewable Generation Projects

On or before May 2, 2022, the Maine Public Utilities Commission has requested bids for proposed transmission and generation resources that would boost energy exports from northern Maine. The northern Maine region has long...

Matter

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...

Blog

Kelsey McCutcheon Selected to Join the Environmental Law Institute’s (ELI) Emerging Leaders Initiative

Verrill associate Kelsey McCutcheon has been selected to join the Environmental Law Institute’s (ELI) Emerging Leaders Initiative. The Environmental Law Institute is a non-profit, non-partisan organization, that seeks to "make law work for people...

Blog

Verrill Partner Mathew Todaro Presents at The National Safety Council (NSC) of Northern New England’s 51st Annual New Hampshire Safety & Health Conference

The National Safety Council (NSC) of Northern New England recently held its 51 st Annual New Hampshire Safety & Health Conference in Nashua. The two-day conference began on June 7 th and featured keynote...

Blog

Four Verrill Attorneys Recognized by Chambers & Partners for Energy and Environmental Law in Maine

Verrill attorneys Juliet T. Browne, James I. Cohen, Gordon R. Smith, and Mathew J. Todaro were recently recognized for energy and environmental law in Maine in the 2022 Chambers & Partners Guide . Chambers...

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...

Blog

Intertidal Court Victory for Property Rights, Marine Conservation, and Public Participation

The Maine Superior Court has dismissed all claims against five intertidal landowners represented by Verrill in Masucci v. Judy’s Moody, LLC . The landowners had been sued because they contacted Maine Marine Patrol to...

Blog

NextEra Subsidiary Fined $8 Million under MBTA for Eagle Deaths at Wind Power Projects in Western U.S.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced that ESI Energy LLC (ESI), a wholly owned subsidiary of Nextera Energy Resources LLC, pleaded guilty to violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) and acknowledged at least...

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