Renewable Energy Summit 2022 – Renewable Energy in Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest

10 February 2022 Renewable Energy Outlook Blog
Author(s): R. Lynn Parins Bryan J. Dworak Rikaela R.J. Greane Sarita R. Olson Hillary N. Vedvig

Foley recently sponsored the eleventh annual Renewable Energy Summit in Madison, Wisconsin. The event’s 2022 theme was “All Roads Lead to Clean Energy.” Approximately 600 people attended the conference either in person or virtually. Attendees at the event included representatives from state and local government, including the Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin, Mandela Barnes, financial institutions, energy project developers and advisors, and renewable energy tech companies. Speakers at the event highlighted the convergence of methods, technologies, people, and scale at the intersection of Wisconsin’s energy transformation as larger solar and wind power projects ramp up across the state.

The summit convened renewable energy developers, equipment manufacturers, financing parties, consultants, advocates and policy makers to discuss recent developments in the renewable energy industry in Wisconsin and the upper Midwest, as this part of the country continues to see increased project development and attention.  Speakers continued to highlight the significant year-over-year growth of the renewables market in this region, particularly for utility-scale solar in Wisconsin.  Further, the summit highlighted the significant work happening in this region with respect to energy efficiency in the built environment through tools like Property Assessed Clean Energy (or PACE), as well as the upcoming wave of investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure.  See here and here for Foley’s recent highlights of these trends.

Foley associate BJ Dworak spoke on the panel, “Stacking Capital for Renewable Energy in Wisconsin”, alongside Timothy DenHerder-Thomas of Cooperative Energy Futures and Kurt Reinhold of Legacy Solar Co-op.  The session was moderated by Jason MacDuff of Greenpenny.  The panel discussed the importance of mitigating risk early and making a project more financeable from the beginning of its development.  Focusing on due diligence and ensuring the proper contracts are in place from the beginning will avoid the need to go back and fix issues flagged by financing parties down the road, which would inevitably add cost and delay.  The panel also discussed current issues facing the industry when it comes to financing projects.  Costs of systems and interest rates are both on the rise, and some lenders have responded by increasing terms to up to 20 years in order to make payments more tenable for borrowers.  Other issues include the availability and accessibility of tax credits.  The panel discussed evolving trends in financial institutions’ underwriting and due diligence processes, including in the community solar space and the importance of engaging all stakeholders in crafting of governmental policies.

Foley is committed to helping our clients in the Energy sector in markets nationwide, and has a deep presence and expertise in Wisconsin and the upper Midwest.  For more information, please contact Lynn Parins, BJ Dworak, Rikaela Greane, Sadie Olson, Hillary Vedvig or your Foley attorney.

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