One of the reasons that Texas has such a strong economy is that the state produces quite a bit of energy. Oil and gas have always been major contributors to the Texas economy, but in recent years, solar panels and wind turbines have begun generating large amounts of electricity in the state and producing quite a bit of revenue for property owners and businesses invested in renewable energy production.
Those who are considering moving into the renewable energy sector have many considerations they must take into account before making an investment. The cost of installation, the value of electricity on the local market and even the location of a particular property can all influence the viability and profitability of a renewable energy project. One consideration for both landowners and businesses is the attitude of neighbors about a proposed project. Can neighbors potentially file a lawsuit over the decision to install wind turbines or solar panels?
Lawsuits must have a reasonable basis
There have absolutely been both businesses planning to generate renewable energy and individual property owners who have ended up in court because of a neighbor’s anger about a project. However, there are only a few reasons why a Texas civil court judge would agree to block a renewable energy project or order compensation based on a neighbor’s complaint. Simply finding the installation to be unattractive won’t be sufficient. There needs to be a significant negative impact caused by the project. Occasionally, concerns about at-risk animal populations, such as nearby migratory songbirds who could end up killed by the heat that surrounds solar panels, could lead to litigation related to renewable energy projects.
There is also the possibility that a neighbor already generating renewable energy might take someone to court. A wind farm installed in a location that will often be upwind from a neighbor’s property with existing turbines could diminish how much electricity the original project continues to generate, thereby reducing someone’s income and potentially giving them grounds for a lawsuit to block the project or recoup the losses they have incurred.
Even then, there’s no guarantee of a successful claim against a wind farm or the proposal of one simply because its existence has a mild impact on downwind airflow. Properly-permitted and carefully-planned renewable energy projects are typically not a source of litigation risk for businesses and property owners, but proactive compliance with all regulations and negotiations with local utility companies will often be key to the success of the project.
Consulting with an attorney familiar with business litigation and energy production projects may help those who are interested in renewable energy but concerned about the threat of a lawsuit.