Solar & Renewable Energy

Saunders Real Estate associate Jeff Cusson sat down with attorney Michael Minton to discuss the ins and outs of solar farms. Topics range from economic considerations and site selection to predictions of the industry’s future in Florida. For more information, click here. As part of their "In Our Expert Opinion" podcast series Michael joined fellow attorney Dennis Corrick to provide a 2023 update. Click here to listen.

Dean Mead’s Solar Energy Team advises landowners, developers and investors on how they can realize value from the land through solar photovoltaic systems – sites consisting of hundreds of acres of solar panel arrays aimed to harness the sun’s energy. Our 40-year history of representing businesses, multigenerational families and individuals engaged in agribusiness operations enables us to recognize valuable locations for new solar energy projects. Utility companies seek us out to identify suitable sites where they may develop large scale solar facilities, and we serve as a catalyst for development.

Always known for abundant sunshine, Florida now has become a favorable climate for growth of the solar energy industry. Economic opportunities for rural parcels larger than 400 acres and the attractiveness of a zero-emissions energy source have fueled interest in the development of solar photovoltaic power stations across the Sunshine State. Florida’s largest power company has accelerated multi-million dollar plans to build more solar energy plants, which would triple the utility’s total solar energy-generating capacity.

The 2016 defeat of Florida’s Amendment 1 has increased competition for building solar panel arrays. A push to take advantage of federal tax credits before the window closes also has made development of solar plants a hot area for investment.

Solar Power Sites

Capturing the sun’s rays and converting them into a steady revenue stream requires the right piece of property. Dean Mead’s Solar Energy Team understands the specific issues that determine a property’s viability for a solar energy project, including the size of the property, its proximity to transmission lines and substations, wetlands requirements, environmental concerns, endangered species protections and land-use regulations.

Our firm has extensive experience working on agribusiness and legal issues with clients who have large land holdings. Our comprehensive approach to solar energy laws and regulations provides seamless coordination in land use, development, acquisition, financing and all other aspects of real estate work. This combination of solar sector knowledge, breadth of experience with land use issues and a dedicated legislative team in Tallahassee is rare among law firms, and it allows us to achieve the most advantageous terms for our clients.

Solar Energy Development and Construction

Dean Mead serves clients with a multidisciplinary business team to provide comprehensive service on all matters under the sun. We counsel clients on leasing, contracting, development, construction and sale of sites for solar photovoltaic plants. Often times, our solar energy lawyers assist land owners by engaging a team of engineers who assess and prepare sites for installation of solar arrays and determine how to maximize use of the remainder of the property. Our solar energy team helps you understand what your land is worth and what you can expect to get out of it.

We negotiate long-term leases for agribusiness property owners and protect clients’ interests in complex acquisition, development, construction and financing projects. Our solar energy attorneys have the knowledge and resources to do everything necessary to get these deals done, including performing due diligence on real estate and ensuring that solar energy development projects are structured to be successful after they are funded.

Solar Power Legislation and Governmental Relations

With decades of public and private sector legal and legislative experience, Dean Mead has the ability to advocate for clients' interests in Tallahassee at the Public Service Commission (PSC) or the Legislature. We also closely follow developments in Congress as lawmakers consider tax credits and possible changes that could be part of an overall reform of federal taxes.

The solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) allows property owners to deduct 30 percent of the cost of installing a solar energy system through 2019 with no cap on the value. The credit drops gradually in subsequent years. Our solar energy attorneys help maximize incentives and tax savings for all types of clients.

Solar Energy Laws and Regulations

Dean Mead’s solar energy lawyers have experience dealing with local land use and zoning issues that may hold solar projects captive. Our clients rely upon both our governmental relationships and our legal judgment to help them comply with local, state and federal regulations.

Our solar energy attorneys handle obtaining local, regional and state government approvals, such as rezoning, variances, special exceptions, conditional uses and planned developments in a variety of jurisdictions. Dean Mead also handles obtaining permits from regional and state agencies such as the Water Management Districts, the PSC and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).

Solar Energy Power Purchase Agreements

Dean Mead’s solar energy attorneys counsel clients on preparing sites for photovoltaic plants and entering into leases with landowners and Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) with the utility companies. We have developed relationships with major players in the solar industry and are familiar with intermediaries used by utilities in negotiations. Our experience derived from decades of legal work puts us in the best position to negotiate the most lucrative PPA terms for your project to generate revenue to launch.

Solar Power Investment

Dean Mead represents clients in all aspects of the development and sale of solar photovoltaic electricity generating projects. We package Membership Interest Purchase Agreement (MIPA) contracts for the purchase and sale of individual solar energy power plants to investors. Sites then may be developed by the end user, such as a mutual fund, hedge fund or retirement fund.  The projects, which range from $2 to greater than $10 million, feature attractive rental revenues or capitalized purchase price far in excess the market rate for agricultural use.

Solar Energy Law Firm Experience

Dean Mead has developed a significant level of experience working on various aspects of solar energy projects. The work our solar energy attorneys have performed includes:

  • Sales of sites to utility companies and investor groups investing in solar power, both pre-development and post-construction.
  • Selecting engineering consultants to research the viability of a particular site for a solar energy project in which the client wishes to participate in the development.
  • Reviewing long-term leases of solar energy sites and Right-of-Way agreements to provide access to transmission lines.
  • Assessing land use and zoning requirements for such sites and the environmental concerns associated with these types of solar energy projects.