Sarah Johnson Phillips

Sarah Johnson Phillips

Minneapolis, MN

About Sarah

Sarah Johnson Phillips is a partner in the firm’s Energy Development practice group, where she focuses on energy project development, buying, selling, and financing energy projects, and energy regulatory matters. She advises large wind and solar project developers on permitting and real estate matters, including obtaining major project permits, negotiating leases and easements, and title work. She also has particular experience working on distributed solar and community-shared solar projects, including negotiating offtake agreements, leases, financing arrangements, M&A transactions, interconnection agreements, and regulatory matters. In addition, Sarah works with large energy consumers on a range of regulatory issues and proceedings affecting ratepayers and regularly appears before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. 

Prior to law school, Sarah worked for five years in the renewable energy nonprofit sector in Minnesota, concentrating on energy policy, community wind energy and climate change issues.

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  • Representation of SoCore Energy in gaining approval for its potential acquisition of equity interests in 22 community solar garden development projects in Minnesota, subject to certain conditions, which upon completion will produce up to 140 megawatts of renewable energy. The projects are being acquired as part of bankruptcy proceedings for renewable energy company SunEdison.
  • Representation of project developers obtaining permits and regulatory approvals in Minnesota and North Dakota for large wind energy projects.
  • Drafted and negotiated wind and solar project leases and easements for projects ranging from rooftop solar projects to 200 MW wind projects in many states.
  • Analyzed title reports, advised on title curative work, and negotiated title insurance policy endorsements for large wind projects in Midwest.
  • Drafted and negotiated power purchase agreements, leases, renewable energy credit (REC) sale agreements, and interconnection agreements for distributed generation projects in many jurisdictions.
  • Representation of solar clients in a range of financing, tax equity, and M&A transactions.
  • Assisted client in making a tax equity investment in a 100 MW wind project
  • Representation of large energy consumers on regulatory matters such as utility rate cases, utility resource plans, and other regulatory issues, including Xcel Energy’s 2014–2015 Minnesota rate case, Minnesota Power’s 2015 integrated resource plan, and Minnesota’s Clean Power Plan implementation process.
  • Advised on project structures and regulatory frameworks for clients developing distributed solar energy projects, including community solar shared programs and net metering policies.
  • Performed environmental, regulatory, and real estate due diligence clients acquiring or investing in wind energy, solar energy, biomass energy, industrial sand mining and agricultural processing facilities.
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Honors & Activities

  • Recipient, Stoel Rives LLP Andrew Guy Pro Bono Award, 2022
  • Listed among Rising Stars (Energy & Natural Resources) Minnesota Super Lawyers ®, 2019
  • Corporate Secretary, Wind on the Wires
  • Member, National Mentoring Committee, Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy
  • Member, Minnesota State Bar Association
  • Member, Hennepin County Bar Association
  • Member, Environment, Natural Resources, and Energy Law Section, Minnesota State Bar Association
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Insights & Presentations

Insights & Presentations

  • Regular contributor to the Stoel Rives Renewable + Law® blog
  • “Solar Project Property Rights: Securing Your Place in the Sun” (co-author), Chapter 1 of The Law of Solar Energy: A Guide to Business and Legal Issues, Stoel Rives LLP, Sixth Edition, 2022
  • “Power Purchase Agreements and Renewable Energy Certificates: Distributed Generation Projects” (co-author), Chapter 2 of The Law of Solar Energy: A Guide to Business and Legal Issues, Stoel Rives LLP, Sixth Edition, 2022
  • “Community Solar” (co-author), Chapter 9 of The Law of Solar Energy: A Guide to Business and Legal Issues, Stoel Rives LLP, Sixth Edition, 2022
  • “Wind Energy Lease Agreements” (co-author), Chapter 1 of The Law of Wind: A Guide to Business and Legal Issues, Stoel Rives LLP, Ninth Edition, 2022
  • “Title Insurance and Survey Matters” (co-author), Chapter 2 of The Law of Wind: A Guide to Business and Legal Issues, Stoel Rives LLP, Ninth Edition, 2022
  • Community Solar: Ready for the New Decade” (co-author), POWER magazine, February 3, 2020
  • “The Cost of Capital Outlook,” Solar Summit 2017, May 17, 2017
  • “The Community Shared Solar Market” (moderator), Infocast Solar Power Finance & Investment Summit, March 2016 
  • “Wind Energy Land Use Issues in Minnesota,” Minnesota State Bar Association, Agricultural and Rural Law Section, February 23, 2012 
  • “Carbon capture and storage policy in the United States: A new coalition endeavors to change existing policy” (co-author), Global Environmental Change, Volume 21, Issue 2, May 2011, Pages 313–323
  • Twisting in the Minn. Wind,” Law360, May 20, 2011
  • A Guide to Community Solar: Utility, Private and Non-profit Project Development” (co-author), National Renewable Energy Laboratory, November 2010
  • Enhanced Oil Recovery as Carbon Capture and Sequestration” (co-author), White Paper, prepared for the California Carbon Capture and Storage Review Panel, August 10, 2010
  • “State Regulation of Geologic Sequestration: 2010 Update” (co-author), Proceedings of Ninth Annual Conference on Carbon Capture & Sequestration, Pittsburgh, PA, May 10–13, 2010
  • State Policy on Geologic Sequestration” (co-author), CCSReg Project, September 25, 2009
  • Community Wind Tool Box,” Windustry, first published December 15, 2006
  • Harvest the Wind: A Wind Energy Handbook for Illinois” (co-author), January 1, 2004

Related News & Publications

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