Activity in the renewable energy sector remains high. Not only have many new production facilities been built, but hydropower is being exploited more effectively through upgrade & expansion (U&E) projects and enhanced capacity to regulate power generation. Although hydropower is considered climate-friendly, it often has a negative impact on the natural environment. The conflicting interests that must be taken into account in such cases mean that good advice is essential. The same applies to the construction of wind farms and expansion of the power transmission grid.
Hjort has a strong and extremely competent group of lawyers who specialise in the renewable energy sector. We help companies of all sizes in the hydropower, wind power, transmission grid and district heating sectors, as well as electricity retailers. Our attorneys handle disputes and provide day-to-day advisory services. We can also offer specialist advice on electricity tax and property tax issues.
Hjort’s lawyers can advise on the licences and permits that must be obtained, and help with the construction of new facilities and U&E projects, the renewal and revision of licences and general questions relating to licence terms and electricity taxation.
Green certificates have made wind power more profitable, and many foreign investors are interested in Norwegian wind power, since this area is not subject to the same ownership restrictions as hydropower. International power transmission cables and new technologies are also leading to an increasing number of wind power projects being realised. Hjort’s lawyers can assist in all phases of such construction projects, as well as with business transactions and restructuring.
In cities and other urban areas, buildings may nowadays be obliged to connect to a local district heating system. Hjort’s attorneys can help you clarify whether this applies in your case, and can also advise those constructing district heating systems on permit requirements, etc.
Power transmission grids and grid regulation
Our attorneys have extensive experience in the power transmission grid sector. In recent years, cases relating to the construction of new power lines have become a much larger part of our portfolio. Many of our clients need legal assistance to help them understand and comply with the detailed regulatory framework to which they are subject (ie the Energy Act’s statutory regulations), adapt to the financial constraints governing grid operations in Norway and plan upgrades to the grid itself. We know the ins and outs of the regulatory framework covering grid companies, and the extent of their obligations to both power generators and consumers.
Electricity market / power trading
Hjort assists a variety of those engaged in the electricity market, in connection with both physical and financial power trading and bilateral trading. This assistance includes issues relating to market behaviour, operational issues, legal matters relating to settlement and clearing, as well as general regulatory and contractual frameworks for the electricity market.
The electricity sector is subject to a number of specific taxes and levies. For hydropower production, this includes natural resource tax and economic rent tax. In addition, property tax is important because special rules apply to the valuation of production facilities and transmission grids. Hjort’s attorneys have been involved in several important court cases in recent years.
Land and rights acquisition
The power transmission grids, dams, power plants, etc, which are necessary for renewable energy production, are land intensive. Our attorneys have extensive experience of assisting in negotiations regarding real property, waterfall and other rights, and, where necessary, providing expert assessment and handling expropriation and other legal processes.
The construction and operation of infrastructures in the energy sector require the extensive procurement of contract services. In conjunction with our Building and Construction practice, we can help you enter into the appropriate contracts and resolve any disputes that may arise.
Transactions and restructuring
Hjort’s company law expertise is extremely comprehensive, and together with the Company Law practice, our energy attorneys can offer advice and assistance on all types of transactions in the energy sector. In such cases, our knowledge of the law on permits and licences is particularly important. At the same time, we can handle any competition law issues that may arise. We also help companies in the renewables sector to address the Energy Act’s new rules requiring transmission grid operations to be spun off from other business activities and to comply with the ban on grid operations being owned by entities that generate or sell electricity in the retail market. The deadline for restructuring is 1 January 2021, and our general advice is that as grid companies become steadily fewer and larger, the need to start the restructuring process in order to secure a position in the market is becoming more and more urgent.
Competition law and public procurement in the energy sector
Hjort has a great deal of experience and expertise in the field of competition law, including public procurement processes, especially those related to the energy sector.