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.
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.
Certifications and Approvals for Pittsfield Solar, Which Will Be Largest Solar Farm in Maine When It Goes Into Service
In 2017, Verrill Dana represented Cianbro Development Corp. subsidiary Pittsfield Solar, LLC in obtaining regulatory approvals for a 9.9-megawatt ground-mounted solar array to be located on 54 acres in Pittsfield, Maine. Verrill helped Pittsfield Solar obtain community-based renewable energy project certification from the Maine Public Utilities Commission ("PUC"), Maine PUC approval for waivers relating to the interconnection and power purchase agreements between Pittsfield Solar and Central Maine Power Company, and Renewable Portfolio Standard certification. These processes involved critical negotiations with both the regulator and the utility. When fully in service, Pittsfield Solar will be the largest solar project in Maine by a factor of two. The first phase of the project will go into service in December 2017, while the remainder will go into service by spring 2018.
Solar PPA Negotiation on Behalf of Brunswick, ME Nonprofit
In 2016, Verrill worked with The Gathering Place, a nonprofit organization based in Brunswick, Me., in negotiating a solar power purchase agreement with Maine's largest solar installation company. The rooftop solar project was installed on The Gathering Place's newly constructed building and has been powering the building since January 2017. The Gathering Place provides a welcoming space for the community's homeless to gather, socialize, engage in hobbies, and just relax.
Bowdoin College Solar Power Generation Project
In 2014, Verrill represented Bowdoin College in securing municipal approvals to install an underground electric distribution line to serve the College's new 1.2-megawatt, 4500-panel solar generating project, the largest solar development—by a factor of seven—in the State at the time. Verrill attorneys also advised on the project's real estate issues.
Energy: Assist in Development of Major Solar Farm for Consumer-Owned Utility
In 2015, Madison Electric Works, a consumer-owned electric utility in Madison, Maine, decided to develop a solar farm on land the utility owned next to their headquarters. They called on Verrill to provide legal guidance to facilitate the project's completion. Verrill helped the utility develop an RFP process to secure a vendor, and Madison ultimately awarded the contract to build and run the project to Ohio-based IGS Solar. Verrill advised Madison on the lease agreement for the solar facilities, the purchase power agreement, and the interconnection agreements between Madison Electric Works and IGS. In January 2017, the project was completed and about 26,000 panels covering more than 20 acres are expected to provide nearly 5 megawatts of power to Madison Electric Works and its customers. The new solar farm is currently the largest in the state, more than double the size of the Bowdoin College facility opened in 2014 – which was also developed with the assistance of Verrill's Energy Team.
More information about this project is available in the Portland Press Herald:
- Maine's Largest Solar Farm Prepares to Power Up, December 2016
- State's Largest Solar Array Now Completely Operational, October 2017
Favorable Net Energy Billing Legislation
In 2015, we helped Emera Maine work with multiple stakeholders to pass legislation requiring the Maine PUC to facilitate an examination of alternatives to net energy billing to support solar energy development in Maine. To accomplish this goal, we successfully argued to legislators and other government officials that they should not adopt a half dozen other bills that would have raised electric rates in order to subsidize the cost of solar generation in Maine.
Massachusetts Solar Agreement - Property Management Company
Provided advice to large Massachusetts property management company that was approached by several solar developers to have its clients (predominantly low income residential housing developments) enter into long term virtual net metering contracts.
Moody's Collision Center Solar Development
In 2014 and 2015, Verrill Dana advised Moody's Collision Center with respect to its investment in a substantial solar development at Maine Audobon in Falmouth. We provided counsel on the power purchase agreement between Moody's and Maine Audubon, as well as various agreements and warranties underlying the installation of the facilities. Verrill Dana attorneys also advised with respect to tax and real estate matters.
Solar Energy Development
Verrill has represented solar energy developers and investors related to multiple projects throughout Maine and Massachusetts. We have provided permitting counsel and due diligence on solar projects ranging from a 1.5-MW micro-grid array in Brunswick to a proposed 100-MW project in the unincorporated area of Hancock County.
Solar PPA Negotiation on Behalf of North Haven Nonprofit
In 2017, Verrill represented North Haven Sustainable Housing in negotiating a solar power purchase agreement with Maine's largest solar installation company. The rooftop solar project is anticipated to be in service by the end of 2017 and will be installed on a newly constructed building on land donated to North Haven Sustainable Housing. The building will serve as housing for the elderly.