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The Legal on Going Green

January 3, 2011

HoganWillig PLLC works to improve and sustain our environment in a number of ways, as demonstrated by our annual highway clean-up, increasingly paperless office, and occupancy of one of Buffalo’s “green” buildings, a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) registered office building located at 2410 North Forest Road. These are among our more public efforts, but within the office we serve a number of clients in their pursuit, adoption and acquisition of renewable energy or other “green” technologies and the requisite legal and industry expertise that is incidental to these activities.

The first thing that individuals and businesses learn when studying this subject matter is how challenging the economics can be, and parties that invest in “green” technologies are either doing so for ideological purposes or because they succeeded in making a business case, or fall somewhere in the middle. HoganWillig invests in “green” technologies and methodologies for both ideological and pragmatic reasons but understands that widespread adoption of the “green movement” and its desired impact will only come about when founded on solid economic ground. To that end, we work with our clients to assist them in acquiring the substantial Federal and State grants and other incentives that form the economic foundation of nearly any private or commercial scale renewable energy or other “green” endeavor.

Keeping abreast of events like the last month’s extension of Department of Treasury’s Section 1603 Tax Grant Program through 2011 and the impact that will have for our clients and the renewable energy industry as a whole is important. However, just as critical is our capacity to assist our clients to understand the tax benefits and ramifications of investing in wind, solar and biomass projects that can generate consistent income for decades while providing simultaneous benefits to the environment.

The average homeowner might not consider these details when contemplating an investment in home energy generation, but benefits like competitive financing, government incentives and asset depreciation are among the paybacks that businesses enjoy and which individuals may also leverage to make “green” investments economical. And not every business realizes that investing in power generating assets like a photovoltaic (PV) system upon existing real estate can result in both a relatively short-term payoff and a better bottom-line while creating the opportunity to purchase electricity from an affiliated entity. And if we’re being frank, most people don’t even think these technologies are viable in Western New York. But our experience is also reflected in this map, which shows that Erie is among the counties with the greatest number of NYSERDA incentivized PV systems. Given that the solar industry grew by over 100% during 2010 as a result of the Treasury grant program, HoganWillig is prepared to be part of the continued economic growth that this industry means to the state and the country.

Whether you are interested in creating a new business to participate in “green” enterprise, need assistance negotiating terms with an Energy Service Company, want to form a holding company to maintain power-generating assets that create an income stream or merely seek advice related to the tax benefits or other government incentives, HoganWillig has a team of professionals that looks forward to the opportunity to assist you.