Renewable Energy Is Hot, Hot, Hot: A Look At Solar and Geothermal

The foundation of our Special Projects practice area is renewable energy, and just as the types and methods of renewable energy production evolve, so does our work in the space. Whether you are developing your first project in geothermal energy or looking to add to your solar portfolio, RR&A has the experience, expertise, and forward-thinking ethos to provide custom-tailored solutions for your legal challenges.


When our solar energy clients are evaluating a project, they look up.  When we are hired to provide due diligence services, we look down.  We want to know who owns the surface and who has the right to use it.  Is the land encumbered by mortgages, easements, or Surface-Use Agreements?  Other big concerns include who owns the oil and gas, who owns the rights to drill, and whether there is or will be oil or gas production on lands or lands pooled therewith.  Unlike many law firms whose attorneys have only worked in renewable energy, the attorneys at RR&A began their careers in oil and gas.  We can draw on this experience to advise our clients more efficiently and effectively on the competing interests of surface and mineral estate.

In Texas, California, and elsewhere, the mineral estate is the dominant estate, which means the surface owners are prohibited from exercising their rights in a way that prevents mineral owners from exercising theirs. Failure to obtain Surface-Use Agreements or to set aside adequate surface acreage for oil and gas drilling can lead to disastrous results, including the rights of the oil and gas owners or their lessees to bring a lawsuit for the removal or relocation of installed solar, battery or wind infrastructure to make way for oil and gas operations. When renewables and energy transition companies are spending millions on technology and infrastructure and hundreds of thousands in legal fees to create complex corporate structures, acquire financing, and secure regulatory approval for their projects, it’s easy to overlook the legal issues surrounding the setting of the project. The attorneys on the Special Projects team at RR&A have spent their careers examining these issues. Drawing on this experience, RR&A is uniquely positioned to advise our clients regarding on-site access, site sufficiency, and, most importantly, the right to use the land for their proposed operations. While our renewables and energy transition clients are often focused on the forest, we make sure they don’t forget about the trees.


Though the bulk of our renewable energy practice is spent on the more conventional forms of renewable energy, we are well-positioned to aid those clients operating in emerging fields of renewable energy production. Geothermal energy, for example, which accounts for less than half a percent of the energy used in the United States, has the potential to reshape the energy sector.  When we think of geothermal energy production, we often think of states with geothermal activity. California leads the nation in geothermal energy production because of its significant geothermal resources. “The Geysers,” a geothermal field located in Northern California, is one of the world’s largest geothermal power production sites and has been producing geothermal energy since the early 1960s. However, technological advances have allowed geothermal energy companies to tap into previously untouched resources in California and around the country. 

Recent studies have shown that most of the population of the state of Texas lives above potentially useable geothermal resources, and the more than twenty start-ups in the State are actively testing ways to tap into these resources. Two to five miles beneath Texas’ surface the temperature is around 300 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to power geothermal plants. However, what makes Texas such an attractive location for geothermal companies, beyond a business-friendly environment, is the number of oil and gas wells drilled in the State and the infrastructure in place to support them. Geothermal companies can reenter plugged and abandoned wells to access geothermal resources, significantly decreasing exploration costs.

Not only are geothermal companies able to utilize the existing physical infrastructure created by the Texas oil and gas industry, but they can also utilize the legal resources born out of the country’s most prolific oil and gas-producing state. For years, RR&A has been researching and opining on surface and subsurface ownership rights, negotiating and drafting surface and subsurface instruments, and conducting due diligence on energy-producing assets. As geothermal energy production grows in California and emerges in Texas utilizing the same ethos as the Texas geothermal energy start-ups, RR&A is well-positioned to draw on our knowledge and experience gained from years of oil and gas, solar power and wind energy production to assist geothermal energy companies in developing their project.

So, whether you are developing your next solar project or planning your first geothermal one, RR&A has the resources, experience, expertise, and forward-thinking ethos to guide you from start to finish. Contact Eric Dean to ensure success for your next renewable energy project.

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Eric Dean

Eric is a Senior Associate at R. Reese & Associates and part of the Land and Title and Special Projects teams. His practice consists primarily of counseling clients on the acquisition and divestiture of energy assets, with a focus on title examination and due diligence. To learn more about Eric, visit his attorney page.

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Disclaimer: The information and material on this website is general information about our practice and firm. This information does not offer specific legal advice and the use of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship with RR&A or any of its attorneys. The information on this website should not be used for legal advice, and persons should not act upon the information on this website without engaging professional legal counsel.

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