Jess Phelps Publishes Article on Agricultural Conservation Easements in Ecology Law Quarterly
Jess Phelps of Dinse’s Real Estate and Environmental groups recently published an article, Defining the Role of Conservation in Agricultural Conservation Easements, in Ecology Law Quarterly, the environmental law review published by the University of California-Berkeley. This article focuses on the challenges of balancing the environmental protection of these lands against the need for these agricultural properties to have operational flexibility, with specific suggestions regarding how to encourage better conservation outcomes. This article is available for download, here.
Dinse goes Solar!
Dinse, Knapp & McAndrew PC proudly announces the completion of a renewable energy project intended to reduce the firm’s carbon footprint. Dinse serves as counsel to clients financing and developing renewable energy projects in Vermont and New York.
Dinse will benefit from the power generated by the 16.5 kW project consisting of 55 300-watt solar panels on the roof of the firm’s building at 209 Battery Street in Burlington, Vermont. The installation was coordinated by Encore Redevelopment of Burlington, Vermont, and designed and installed by Peck Solar of South Burlington, Vermont. The project was commissioned on April 9, 2014.
The solar array creates a clean renewable energy resource for 25 to 30% of the electrical demand associated with the office equipment at Dinse, a 30-attorney firm.
“Dinse is a champion member of Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR) and we own our building, so we’ve been excited about a solar energy project for the firm,” says Leigh Cole, a partner at Dinse and leader of the firm’s Social Responsibility Committee. “We advise clients on the legal aspects of renewable energy projects but a project build-out is beyond our skill set. We’re lawyers, not developers. So we partnered with Chad Farrell and Encore Redevelopment and they brought the project to life within a few months. Their guidance and management made it easy for us.”
Dinse, Knapp & McAndrew PC is one of the largest law firms in Vermont and the northern tier of New York. We have the lawyers and resources to handle the most complex cases and transactions, including renewable energy projects. The firm has been a Champion member of Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR) since 2011. For more information, contact David Gurtman in our Renewable Energy practice group, firstname.lastname@example.org, (802)859-7048.
Dinse Attorneys Win Transfer of Jurisdiction Over ANR Corrective Action Plan from Civil Division to Environmental Division
Dinse represents Bradford Oil Company, Inc. in a civil enforcement action (Docket No. 307-5-06 Wncv) brought by the State of Vermont with respect to the release of hazardous materials on property owned by Bradford Oil in Springfield, Vermont. The property at issue was used as a manufactured gas plant between 1906 and 1951. The MGP caused significant contamination of which the State was aware as early as 1991. Bradford Oil purchased the long-abandoned property in 1998 and built a convenience store and gas station. Shortly after acquiring the property, the Agency of Natural Resources ordered Bradford Oil to remediate both its property and the adjoining Jones and Lamson property with respect to contamination associated with the manufactured gas plant. The State filed an enforcement action in the Civil Division and the case has been in active litigation since 2006.
On May 1, 2013, the Agency of Natural Resources released its Corrective Action Plan for the site. Bradford Oil appealed the Agency’s decision to the Environmental Division pursuant to 10 V.S.A. 8503 (Docket No. 139-10-13 Vtec) The State of Vermont moved to dismiss the Environmental Division action on the ground that the Civil Division had exclusive jurisdiction over enforcement actions under 10 V.S.A. § 8221 and that the CAP was part of the pending enforcement action. Bradford Oil objected to these arguments and reasoned that the CAP was an independent process initiated by the Agency subject to appeal via the ordinary course of other Chapter 159 decisions. Since Bradford Oil had not refused to comply with the CAP, but merely sought to test the merits of ANR’s determination, the CAP was not yet ripe for enforcement under § 8221.
On December 20, 2013, the Civil Division (Teachout, J.), without deciding the jurisdictional question, held that the CAP appeal should be heard in the Environmental Division because it had primary jurisdiction with respect to the subject matter and Judge Walsh was specifically assigned pursuant to V.R.C.P. 16.1. The Civil Division observed that the Environmental Division had specific expertise related to environmental contamination issues, and that issues of standing of non-parties was more easily addressed under Environmental Division rules. The Civil Division also held that a final determination with respect to a remedy was necessary before an enforcement action was ripe in the case.
The State has filed a motion to vacate the Civil Division’s order or, in the alternative, request permission to file an interlocutory appeal. Significant issues with respect to court and agency jurisdiction, as well as the scope of constitutional due process protections afforded to parties, are in play. We will keep you apprised of developments as they unfold.
Please contact Scott Fewell or Joe Wonderly for additional information.
Dinse Real Estate Group Acts as Vermont Local Counsel to Two Affiliates of Gestamp Solar
Molly Langan Lebowitz with assistance from Dave Gurtman and Tanya Toth acted as Vermont local counsel to two affiliates of Gestamp Solar (based in Spain, with a California base in the U.S.) in connection with Gestamp’s purchase and sale/leaseback financing with Bank of America of a 2.2 MW solar electric generation facility in Pownal, Vermont and a 2.1 solar electric generation facility in Williamstown, Vermont.
Dave Gurtman Participated in Roundtable Discussion Regarding Renewable Energy
Dave Gurtman participated in a roundtable discussion with Congressman Peter Welch and Vermont renewable energy companies at AllEarth Renewables in Williston on April 1, 2013. At the event, Welch outlined his Master Limited Partnership Parity Act, which would allow renewable energy companies to take advantage of a key financing tool used by the energy sector known as master limited partnerships (MLPs).
Gurtman Presents at 2012 Renewable Energy Vermont Conference
Attorney Dave Gurtman presented on a panel entitled “Navigating Project Finance: Federal Tax Incentives” at the 2012 Renewable Energy Vermont conference. His presentation covered an overview of federal tax credits for renewable projects, the calculation of eligible basis, and tax equity structures.