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Guide to Finding the Perfect Lawyer in the Green Energy Industry

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The green energy sector is growing by leaps and bounds. One analysis found that the market for green energy is projected to be worth nearly $1.7 trillion by 2029. Many energy professionals are expressing an interest in switching to a more eco-friendly business model.

Unfortunately, running an eco-friendly energy industry is more difficult than it seems. There are loads of complicated regulations that need to thought out.

The good news is that there are lawyers that specialize in serving the energy industry. Their expertise can help green energy companies create good business models. They can also help eco-friendly contractors trying to take advantage of renewable energy.

Energy Lawyers Can Be Very Helpful for Green Energy Companies

Lawyers who work in the energy industry have the same broad qualifications as most lawyers.  They are able to advise clients about the legal issues or disputes involving energy production and deals.  They support contract negotiations with suppliers, subcontractors, and customers.  They help set up financing and appropriate security around confidential business information.  Sometimes they assist with mergers and acquisitions. They are also familiar with laws designed to address the safety hazards of green construction.

All of these services can be useful green energy companies, as well as traditional energy companies. If you are selling solar power, then their services will be invaluable.

What is unique to lawyers who specialize in the energy sector is that they tend to need highly attuned knowledge regarding the particular laws and regulations of the energy industry.  Because this is a very specific subset of attorneys, if you are in the market for guidance about your wind, solar, thermal, hydro, and other green power needs, start by hiring a good legal staffing agency.  You will help the staffing agency help you by knowing what you are trying to accomplish and what type of background or skills you think will best fit your situation.

Below are some of the legal issues common to the energy industry, paired with characteristics your ideal candidate might have. The first three are about meeting the basic operational requirements.  The remaining topics are those common to energy producers.

Regulatory Compliance

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that operates within the Department of Energy.  It regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas, and oil.  Although wind and solar power may not be as heavily regulated as oil and gas, because they are ultimately turned into electricity, and because there are incentives around green energy, regulations will likely apply.  States regulate the retail sale of electricity within the boundaries of that state.  That creates a complex web of rules an energy company needs to follow. If you are helping with constructing buildings that will use solar power, then you need to be familiar with the building regulations as well.

Lawyers familiar with the regulations, what they say as well as how to follow them, are invaluable to the process.  When searching for an attorney to help with compliance, ensure that the candidate is familiar with industry norms and processes, as well as the laws themselves.

Forecasting and Lobbying New Rules

Knowing what’s coming next in the regulation of energy production, sale, and use, and even being able to influence how new rules are formed, requires three broad skills.  The first is an in depth understanding of how the current regulations are written and how they affect the industry.  The second is an ability to wordsmith new regulations.  That is a skill that is not as easy as it sounds.  The third is tremendous expertise and cultivating relationships with, and persuading, influential people.  The ideal candidate should be able to charm the hiring committee without breaking a sweat.

Mergers & Acquisitions

The energy sector is a complex web, with thousands of players.  The scene is constantly evolving as new technologies are developed.  As companies grow and change, they are frequently bought and sold.  There is a tremendous amount of legal work involved in the buying, selling, or merging of companies.  A good staffing move will be to find an attorney who has seen a merger through from beginning to end.  If they have specific experience in the energy sector, that’s even better.

Other Business Assistance

Energy is a business, like any other business, in many ways.  Companies producing wind and solar power need good contracts, sufficient income, and adequate risk mitigation, just like all companies do.  Because contracts often use industry technical jargon and rely on industry norms for negotiating and performing agreements, your new counsel will get up to speed more quickly as to your organization’s specific needs and procedures if they don’t also have to learn the ins and outs of the entire industry at the same time.  Consider these two hot topics for when a working knowledge of how the energy sector works will be a benefit.

Companies in the green energy sector need financing.  Whether it’s bringing old infrastructure up to new standards, constructing a new power generator, or speculation on a brilliant new concept in the industry, the attorney supporting the financial negotiations with the bank, investment firm, or venture capitalist, needs to understand both parties’ business models, as well as the pitfalls and potential risks specific to the company the attorney represents.  Familiarity with the industry will help.

Green energy companies need insurance.  From property loss to business interruption insurance, an attorney can help ensure that the company gets the right insurance coverage to begin with, and then gets all compensation due in the event that disaster strikes.

Green Energy Companies Need to Invest in the Right Legal Professionals

When you are running a green energy business, you need to understand the rules and regulations involved. A lawyer that specializes in serving the energy sector can help immensely.

Have some inspiration about going green in all aspect of life. Views are my own.

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