Sarah Johnson Phillips

Sarah Johnson Phillips

Minneapolis, MN

About Sarah

Sarah Johnson Phillips is a partner in the firm’s Energy Development practice group and is chair of the firm’s solar working group. Her practice focuses on energy project development and transactions, including representing clients in M&A transactions and negotiating complex project agreements for wind energy, solar, and battery energy storage projects. Sarah has particular expertise in community shared solar and distributed generation projects, including experience representing clients in acquiring and financing large portfolios of smaller solar projects, negotiating community solar subscription agreements and subscriber management agreements, negotiating behind-the-meter power purchase agreements and navigating the regulatory requirements for community solar and distributed energy projects. Sarah also has extensive energy real estate experience and regularly negotiates wind and solar leases and title insurance policies. She also has a background in obtaining major project permits and working on energy regulatory matters 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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  • Represented solar clients in numerous acquisitions of community solar projects, including portfolios of development and operating projects in Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia.
  • Represented clients in development and acquisition of rooftop solar projects in numerous states including Minnesota, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Virginia.
  • Represented clients in numerous sales and/acquisitions of utility scale wind, solar, and battery projects, including in Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Ohio and Texas.
  • Negotiated subscriber management and acquisition agreements for community solar projects in New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Minnesota, and Colorado.
  • Negotiated behind-the-meter power purchase agreements for numerous projects, including a project located at an oil field in California, a school in Minnesota, and numerous other warehouses and industrial facilities.  
  • Drafted and negotiated numerous wind and solar project leases and easements for projects ranging from rooftop solar projects to 200 MW wind projects in many states.
  • Represented project developers obtaining permits and regulatory approvals in Minnesota and North Dakota for large wind energy projects.
  • Analyzed title reports, advised on title curative work, and negotiated title insurance policy endorsements for large wind projects in the Midwest.
  • Represented large energy consumers on regulatory matters such as utility rate cases, utility resource plans, and other regulatory issues, including Minnesota Power’s EnergyForward resource petition, Xcel Energy’s 2014–2015 Minnesota rate case, Minnesota Power’s 2015 integrated resource plan, and Minnesota’s Clean Power Plan implementation process.
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Honors & Activities

  • Named by Best Lawyers® as Energy Law “Lawyer of the Year,” Minneapolis, 2024
  • Included in The Best Lawyers in America® (Energy Law), 2024
  • Named to Minnesota Lawyer’s inaugural class of the Top Women in Law, 2023
  • Recipient, Stoel Rives LLP Andrew Guy Pro Bono Award, 2022
  • Listed among Rising Stars (Energy & Natural Resources) Minnesota Super Lawyers ®, 2019
  • Corporate Secretary and Treasurer, Clean Grid Alliance
  • 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
  • Contract Drafting Tips for Rooftop Solar and Carport Solar Leases” (co-author), Daily Journal of Commerce, December 5, 2023
  • “Don’t Wait till the Last Minute—Why Real Estate, M&A, and Energy Lawyers Need to Call Their Environmental Lawyers” (presenter), Minnesota Environmental Institute, April 20, 2023
  • “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
  • “7 Things Every Real Estate Lawyer Should Know About Energy Law—Including Key Statutes, Regulations, and Contracts” (presenter), online CLE for Minnesota CLE, January 20, 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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