Monday, December 13, 2010

"Renewable Energy Project Development and Regulation" Course Debuts in January 2011; Enhances and Strengthens DU's Leadership in Renewables Law

An exciting and timely new course to be offered for the first time in the spring 2011 semester at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law will be "Renewable Energy Project Development and Regulation."

Recently I sat down with Adjunct Professor Mark D. Safty (pictured at left), a partner at and practice group leader for Holland & Hart's Energy & Infrastructure Group. We talked about his experience and the reasons he is looking forward to teaching this course.

Mr. Safty has been lead counsel in the development, acquisition, financing, and refinancing of more than three dozen power generation facilities. Moreover, he has been involved in hydroelectric, coal, natural gas, and fuel oil powered facilities and projects. To put it in brief, he has experience in all regulatory, financial, and operational aspects of the energy generation industry.

More recently Mr. Safty has served as the group leader his firm's renewable energy practice, where by all measures he has assembled one of the country's top renewable energy project development practice teams. He is widely sought after as a speaker at renewables-related conferences and has been asked to contribute to numerous publications including the International Power & Utilities Finance Review.

In his role leading Holland & Hart's renewable energy practice, Mr. Safty pays close attention to the legal, policy, and business development trends associated with renewables. We talked about a broad range of topics that are involved with a renewables-related practice, and he offered his observations about the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the renewables sector.

More specifically Mr. Safty provided this overview of his course, which will begin on Jan. 12, 2011:

"This course will examine the broad range of legal topics that a renewable energy lawyer must understand in order to practice effectively. We will examine the structure, regulation, and functioning of the electric energy industry in the United States. We will explore in detail the law applicable to the development, ownership and operation of renewable energy projects across the spectrum of technologies. Significant emphasis will be placed on the practical 'real world' issues encountered in developing, financing and operating these projects.

"While the primary focus of this course is the regulation and development of renewable energy projects, we will also explore the renewable energy policy arena and its implications, and the mechanics and issues associated with financing energy

"Finally, the course will also address legal, policy and economic and financing issues associated with the expansion and improvement of the transmission grid to support renewable energy development. Various guest lecturers including leading practitioners in the field and developers of renewable energy projects in the region will participate in the course."

Two things struck me about his approach to his work and his upcoming class. He is extremely engaged in the renewables sector through his client work as well as his association with various renewables-related business groups. Second, he has a desire to impart his knowledge and his 'lessons learned' based on his experience to a generation of future professionals whose work will be essential to the future of American electricity generation and distribution system. Moreover, anyone who meets him will learn what it means to be a true professional whose passion for his work is reflected in his engaging and personable style.

With the addition of Mr. Safty's course in the spring of 2011, the Environmental and Natural Resources Law program is well on the way to establishing the Sturm College of Law as "the" leader in renewable energy studies among all American law schools. This is a moniker we take seriously and are committed to fulfilling for our students and our community. Mr. Safty's course joins two other high profile renewables-related courses and complements some of the nation's finest externship opportunities as provide by the College of Law Legal Externship Program.

Students interested in learning more about renewable energy project development, and all that it entails, should not miss this course or the College of Law's other renewables offerings for that matter. There is no better place to learn about renewables than here in Denver, the center of the new energy economy.

Don C. Smith
Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program

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