Abilene Attorney Nicholas E. Arrott II Honored by Texas Bar Foundation

For Immediate Release

Mr. Nicholas E. Arrott II with Shahan Decker & Arrott PLLC has been elected to membership in the Fellows of the Texas Bar Foundation. Fellows of the Foundation are selected for their outstanding professional achievements and their demonstrated commitment to the improvement of the justice system throughout the state of Texas. Election is a mark of distinction and recognition of Mr. Arrott’s contributions to the legal profession.

Selection as a Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation is restricted to members of the State Bar of Texas. Each year one-third of one percent of Texas attorneys are invited to become Fellows. Once nominees are selected, they must be elected by the Texas Bar Foundation Board of Trustees. Membership has grown from an initial 255 Charter Members in 1965 to more than 10,000 Fellows throughout Texas today.

The Texas Bar Foundation is the largest charitably funded bar foundation in the country. Founded in 1965 by lawyers determined to assist the public and improve the profession of law, the Texas Bar Foundation has maintained its mission of using the financial contributions of its membership to build a strong justice system for all Texans. To date, the Texas Bar Foundation has distributed more than $23 million throughout Texas to assist nonprofit organizations with a wide range of justice-related programs and services. For more information, contact the Texas Bar Foundation at www.txbf.org.

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Solar Rush

A New Solar Rush Creates Legal Minefield for Landowners
Texans tempted by solar power leases may have to give up more than they realize.
by Naveena Sadasivam

published on October 4th, by Texas Observer

In the last few months, Tiffany Dowell, a Texas A&M professor who provides legal information about the agriculture industry at the university’s extension program, has been inundated with cold calls from landowners in West Texas. Many of them had received fliers or letters from solar companies with offers to lease their land.

“They had questions,” Dowell said. “‘Are these companies legit?’ ‘What factors should I be considering?’”

The land rush indicates that the solar power sector in Texas, though small, is growing and maturing. In the last few years, the solar industry has been driven largely by cities, especially Austin and San Antonio, shifting away from fossil fuels. Traditionally, solar farm developers have looked for large parcels of land that can be leased from a single owner. With the first wave of large-scale projects underway and anticipation of more deals up for grabs from Austin Energy and San Antonio’s CPS Energy in 2017, developers seem to now be snatching up cheap land and experimenting with a different business model: smaller, dispersed solar farms.

“That was new to me, getting mailers and seeing ads in different publications,” said James Decker, a Stamford attorney who specializes in wind and solar leases. “It’s a shotgun type of approach. … They want to lock you down so you don’t go to another solar company.”

Innovative Solar Systems, a North Carolina firm, is one such company that has sent out mailers in West Texas. Richard Green, a co-founder of the company, declined the Observer’s request for an interview, citing the need to protect proprietary information.

“We have nothing to hide, but we don’t want to give away our business model,” he said.

But Decker said his clients have been offered from $125 to $900 per acre per year. The closer the land is to a substation or transmission lines, the better the offer. The geographic location, slope of the land and whether landowners own both mineral and surface rights also influence prices.
The land rush indicates that the solar power sector in Texas, though small, is growing and maturing.
For an absentee landowner or a farmer struggling to turn a profit because of low commodity prices, tens of thousands of dollars a year with no up-front cost can be an enticing prospect. But Decker warns that landowners shouldn’t jump to sign leases too quickly. Lease terms are often for 30 or 40 years, and once the solar panels are installed, the land cannot be used for farming the way it can be with oil and gas production or wind turbines. Landowners will also likely lose their agricultural tax exemptions and should negotiate beforehand with the solar company to decide whether it will chip in to pay the difference in taxes. In cases where mineral rights have been severed from surface rights, solar leasing could put landowners in conflict with the mineral owners.

“The law is pretty settled with oil and gas. We have 90 years of law,” Decker said. “We don’t have that with solar. It’s such a brand new area.”

This article was originally published by Texas Observer on October 4th, 2016 and written by Naveena Sadasivam. Click HERE to view the original.

Texas Oil & Gas Leasing Handbook Available

Friends of the firm, Tiffany Dowell Lashmet and Shannon Ferrell recently conducted a seminar in College Station, Texas, focusing on landowner issues regarding oil and gas production on agricultural lands. A fantastic handbook, for the landowner, is now published and available free online through Texas AgriLife Extension Services. SGDA attorney, James Decker, assisted in the development of the handbook. Click here to view/download the reference!

Visit Tiffany’s blog for more information on the seminar and a link for the free handbook download!