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Our Renewables Law Blog provides timely legal and business information on issues impacting companies developing or investing in renewable energy generation.



Solar Developer Settles Massachusetts Enforcement Action

A recently settled enforcement action against a solar project developer in Massachusetts underscores the importance of adhering to appropriate stormwater pollution prevention protocols when siting, designing and constructing a project. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts sued the project developer under state and federal environmental laws, alleging that they had constructed a solar array on a hillside parcel without designing or implementing the required stormwater controls.  Specifically, the Commonwealth alleged that the developer never properly analyzed the potential for harm from stormwater discharges resulting from construction of the solar array, failed to install necessary stormwater controls prior to conducting site clearing and grading activities, applied for a General Stormwater Permit for construction activities (Permit) without having first prepared a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP), and ultimately failed to comply with requirements of the Permit and SWPPP that are designed to prevent stormwater pollution.  As a result, the Commonwealth claimed, there was an extensive discharge of sediment-laden stormwater over several months into a downgradient river that adversely affected the river’s water quality, and also eroded the hillside, scoured out perennial and intermittent streams, uprooted trees, destroyed streambeds, and filled in wetlands with sediment.  The developer has agreed to pay more than $1 million to settle the claim, which includes the cost of restoring impacted natural resources, compensatory mitigation costs, the Commonwealth’s legal fees, and a $100,000 civil penalty. The case is an important reminder that renewables projects face the same environmental compliance obligations as any other large-scale infrastructure project, and that such projects, while considered “green,” are not immune from environmental enforcement actions. While renewables projects are often scrutinized for potential impacts to protected species, a greater risk of liability may lie in a project’s failure to comply with more “run of the mill” permitting and compliance requirements.  For more information on this case, please click here.

Tagged:  SWPPP, Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan, enforcement action, solar, stormwater

Solar Growth in West Virginia

Following the passage of West Virginia Senate Bill 583 in early 2020, West Virginia has seen an uptick in the number of new proposed renewable energy projects.  SB 583 established a new incentive program supporting the development of renewable energy facilities on former industrial sites.  Berkeley County, in the eastern panhandle, recently announced a proposed 100 MW solar facility to be built on a 750 acre brownfield site previously used as a manufacturing facility.  Read more.

Tagged:  SB 583, West Virginia Senate Bill 583, energy, renewable, solar, tax credits

Solar Investment and Wind Production Tax Credits Extended

The recently approved federal spending bill for 2021 appropriations (December 27, 2020) included extensions to the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) and wind production tax credit (PTC).  The ITC and PTC provide significant financial incentives to the growing renewable energy industry. The ITC is a tax credit that can be claimed on federal corporate income taxes for a percent of the cost of a solar photovoltaic (PV) system that is placed in service.  The ITC, which was scheduled to step down from 26% to 22% in 2021, has been extended at its current 26% rate for an additional two years through 2023.  The PTC is a per-kilowatt-hour (kWh) tax credit for electricity generated using qualified energy resources including wind, and was scheduled to phase down from 60% of the original credit to 40% in 2021.  The new spending bill included an extension of the 60% rate for an additional year through 2021. Projects must be commenced prior to the expiration of the new extension deadlines in order to qualify for the current tax credit rate. Please click here for more information.

Tagged:  ITC, PTC, energy, federal solar investment tax credit, federal spending bill, renewable, solar, tax credits, wind, wind production tax credit