Sutin, Thayer & Browne is a major presence in the New Mexico renewable resources market, with a long history in wind and solar energy. Our lawyers are deeply experienced in renewable energy with respect to environmental law, tax incentives, tax equity and other public finance, and real estate and loans. We have extensive experience and overlapping knowledge in the regulation and administration of all these resources. Our practice includes transactional attorneys and litigators who collaborate to address critical renewable energy and environment issues.
We represent a wide array of clients in the renewable energy space, including developers of small- and large-scale solar and wind projects, investors in such solar/wind projects, power transmission companies, start-ups developing renewable energy-related technologies, manufacturers and suppliers of solar and wind projects, and government entities providing tax incentives and other local economic development incentives for eligible solar/wind projects.
Among other things, we have assisted our solar/wind project developer clients and our project investor clients, in the following areas:
Real Estate, Land Use and Development. We have helped our developer clients negotiate, secure and review land leases, easements and other associated real property rights required in the development and operation of a solar/wind projects. We understand that developing a solar/wind project often requires negotiations with numerous landowners and can involve potentially complex real estate related issues. Among other things, we have represented our clients in their negotiations with counties, municipalities and other public bodies, and we are intimately familiar with the issues, restrictions and considerations involved in negotiating real estate transactions with local governments. We have also represented large institutional investors in comprehensive real estate due diligence reviews of prospective solar/wind projects. We have significant experience with eminent domain, zoning and condemnation, land use, siting and development.
The Firm has worked on many easement projects, analyzed complex access and utility easement matters, and drafted easements for several major projects. Some of our other relevant experience includes negotiating the establishment, amendment, assignment and purchase of tribal, state and federal rights-of-way, drafting legislation allowing clients to sell easements and rights-of-way, preparing and reviewing site development plans, reviewing survey and title insurance commitments, performing due diligence on real estate matters generally, including zoning certifications and ordinances, and preparing site development plans.
Our real estate work has also included the financing, sales, exchanges and leasing of many types of property, and our attorneys have experience in preparing various real estate documents, including letters of intent, land leases, royalty arrangements, purchase agreements and option agreements
Economic Development Incentives. We are recognized as one of New Mexico's leading firms in the area of economic development incentives, and our economic development team comprises State and local tax experts, public law and finance specialists, seasoned bond attorneys, and other lawyers with extensive experience in economic development, including the former chief counsel to the State’s Economic Development Secretary. We have extensive experience in economic development projects, representing clients with respect to project finance, state tax exemptions, acquisition finance, tax, real estate, governmental affairs and regulatory oversight. The Firm's economic development practice is distinguished by its balanced representation of public and private owners and operators, sponsors, developers, investment and commercial banks, institutional lenders, and government entities in matters concerning economic development, including tax incentives, industrial revenue bonds and Local Economic Development Act grants. Our public finance, public law, real estate, tax and construction experts combine for an ideal team to call upon for economic development projects of any size.
We have assisted a number of wind and solar project developers in negotiating and securing a broad range of tax incentives (including industrial revenue bonds) and credits for eligible projects. In the area of industrial revenue bonds, we represent our solar/wind developer clients in their negotiations with government entities, take primary responsibility for drafting the key transaction and closing documents, and prepare the requisite legal opinions required in such transactions. We also frequently help project developers prepare due diligence and related project information for prospective investors considering investing in and/or acquiring the proposed project. We have also from time to time represented project investors and government entities. We believe our deep experience and good relationships in both the public and private sectors give us a distinct advantage in representing clients who are interested in pursuing State economic incentives for eligible projects.
Permitting, Environmental, Utility and Regulatory Matters. The Firm regularly assists its developer clients with securing and reviewing necessary project permits and navigating the often complicated regulatory requirements pertaining to the construction and operation of a solar/wind project. We have also represented our developer clients before State regulatory bodies, including the Public Regulation Commission, the Department of Energy and Minerals and the Department of Taxation and Revenue.
General Corporate Representation. Our attorneys also serve as general local counsel to solar and wind energy developers, advising in entity formation, corporate governance, financing and lending, mergers and acquisitions, and employment law issues, among other areas. In such capacity, we commonly review and consult with clients regarding project development agreements (including PPAs), proposed joint ventures, leases, investment documents, operating agreements, negotiations with property owners, and appearances before regulatory bodies.
The Firm or lawyers at the Firm have represented clients in the following matters:
Project Developers and Project Investor Clients
- Served as local counsel to a large national developer of a solar photovoltaic project in Dona Ana County, New Mexico. Representation included helping client secure tax incentives (including industrial revenue bonds) for the project as well as assisting with permitting and real estate matters.
- Served as local counsel for developer of a large wind project in Roosevelt County, New Mexico. Representation included advising client with respect to securing industrial revenue bonds, project bifurcation, permitting, regulatory compliance, real estate, state tax matters and tax incentives for project. Also represented client in negotiations with tax equity investors and financing parties.
- Served as local counsel for a developer of a solar photovoltaic facility and supporting equipment in Luna County, New Mexico. Representation included assisting client with securing an industrial revenue bond from local government, providing considerable property and gross receipts/compensating tax savings for the company.
- Served as local counsel for large national developer of solar project in Colfax County, New Mexico. Representation primarily included assisting client with securing an industrial revenue bond from local government and providing client with general state tax planning advice for the project. Also assisted client in its negotiations with and sale of project to interested investor.
- Served as local counsel institutional investor in large wind project in Lea County, New Mexico. Representation included conducting comprehensive due diligence or real estate, permitting and tax matters, and assisting company to negotiate project investment terms.
- Served as local counsel to large institutional investor in wind project in Luna County, New Mexico. Representation included conducting comprehensive due diligence or real estate, permitting and tax matters.
- Served as local counsel to acquirer of wind project in Chaves County, New Mexico. Representation included conducting comprehensive due diligence or real estate, permitting and tax matters. Assisted company with securing production tax credit for facility and preparing opinions relating to tax credits.
Government Entity Clients (Solar/Wind Projects)
- Represented Silver City, New Mexico, as issuer of industrial revenue bonds for the benefit of a solar power project and in the negotiation of a power purchase agreement. Representation included assisting the City with negotiation of terms of industrial revenue bonds, power purchase agreement and project due diligence.
- Represented the Village of Grady, New Mexico, in five separate industrial revenue bond projects for eligible wind farms. Representation included assisting the Village with negotiation of terms of industrial revenue bonds, project due diligence since 2011, and annexation of territory required in proposed project.
- Represented the New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority (RETA) as general counsel since 2011. The Firm has worked closely with RETA on several projects requiring the application and interpretation of New Mexico eminent domain statutes, the RETA statute, and New Mexico statutes and regulations addressing Public Regulation Commission jurisdiction over particular aspects of utilities in general and RETA projects in particular. We have worked closely with RETA and its partners to assist in designing projects in a manner that minimizes New Mexico Public Regulation jurisdiction.
Solar/Wind Manufacturer Clients
- Since 2011, we have advised and assisted a large, international solar photovoltaic manufacturer in Albuquerque in a wide variety of matters: the application of financing incentives, including assistance with industrial revenue bond, tax credits and local economic development grants; the environmental permitting process for a massive housing development south of Albuquerque; negotiating electrical services agreements with PNM Service Company of New Mexico; large real estate purchasing; manufacturing plant construction; litigation against a design engineer; and miscellaneous corporate matters, including advising and working with the client’s accountants.
- Since 2008, our attorneys have represented a leading manufacturer of solar racking in North America in a wide range of general business legal needs, including advising regarding a major stock acquisition; negotiating agreements for solar installation repairs; evaluating insurance policies and risk management protocols; revising commercial contracts; serving as local counsel for patent infringement lawsuit; negotiating a dispute arising out of supply agreements; assisting with monies due; and handling miscellaneous employment matters.