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Land Use Issues for Wind and Solar Energy Development

Level: Advanced
Runtime: 93 minutes
Recorded Date: March 01, 2017
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  • The Developer's Perspective
  • Planning and zoning for Solar
  • Unique issues for projects on Tribal lands
  • Land use issues for wind and solar energy development
Runtime: 1 hour and 31 minutes
Recorded: March 1, 2017


This program will address practical issues in wind and solar energy development, as well as applicable local regulations and how to deal with local officials. Also covered will be defending against objections made to wind and solar energy development, and the unique challenges of developing wind and solar energy on Indian land.

This program was recorded on March 1st, 2017.

Provided By

American Bar Association
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Pilar Thomas

Of Counsel
Rothgerber Christie LLP

Pilar Thomas is Of Counsel in the firm’s Tribal Lands and Natural Resources, Alternative Energy and Utilities, and Tribal Affairs and Gaming practice groups. Her practice is focused on Indian law, tribal renewable energy project development and finance, tribal economic development, and Indian gaming.

She assists clients with strategic legal advice on tribal energy policy and planning, renewable energy project development and finance, federal and state energy regulatory, programs, and policy efforts, tribal gaming regulations, gaming-related transactions, litigation, and other business and economic development efforts.

Prior to returning to the firm, Pilar was the Deputy Director for the Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs at the U.S. Department of Energy, where she was responsible for developing and implementing policy and program efforts within the department and federal government to achieve the office’s policy objectives, particularly the promotion of energy development, electrification, and infrastructure improvement on tribal lands. Working directly with tribes, tribal energy resource development organizations, tribal utilities, tribal enterprises, Alaska Native villages and corporations, Pilar provided hands-on technical assistance, including strategic energy planning, education and capacity building, market research and analysis, and federal program support. She spearheaded federal agency efforts to coordinate and collaborate on tribal energy development efforts, in partnership with the White House Council on Native American Affairs, the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce and the Environmental Protection Agency.

She is the former Deputy Solicitor of Indian Affairs for the U.S. Department of the Interior, where she provided legal advice to the Secretary, Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs, and other department officials on decisions related to tribes and matters related to federal Indian law, tribal law, administrative law, and Indian water rights. Pilar provided guidance and advice as needed in policy, program formulation and litigation strategies, interpreting existing laws, statutes, rules, regulations or other legal authority affecting actions proposed or taken under Departmental programs and operations.

She also served as the Interim Attorney General and Chief of Staff to Chairwoman Herminia Frias of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, of which she is a member. As Interim Attorney General, Pilar provided legal advice and representation for the Tribe, Tribal Council, Divisions, Departments, Commissions, and Enterprises on extensive legal issues, including employment law, gaming law, environmental law, self-determination contracting, tribal constitutional law, and internal policies. Her responsibilities included drafting tribal resolutions and ordinances, negotiating and drafting business contracts, government contracts, intergovernmental agreements, and other transactional legal items. She also represented the Tribe on external intergovernmental issues, including federal and state legislation and administrative actions.

In 2002, Pilar was appointed to the position of trial attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Division, Indian Resources Section. Her practice included Indian treaty rights, water rights, and regulatory litigation. She was the recipient of the department’s Service Award for her efforts in the United States v. Michigan treaty rights litigation. Prior to her law practice, Pilar worked for fifteen years in the financial services industry as a marketing director and in operations management. She received her JD, magna cum laude at the University of New Mexico School of Law in 2002.

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Joseph D. Condo

K&L Gates

Joe Condo focuses his practice on infrastructure projects and transactions, with an emphasis on the renewable energy sector. He has significant experience in complex foreign and domestic commercial transactions, including debt and equity financing, M&A transactions, joint venture arrangements, and complex commercial litigation management. He joined K&L Gates in 2016 following 15 years as an in-house attorney in the power generation sector, including 11 years as a general counsel.

He has extensive direct managerial and employment law experience and over a decade of leading a government affairs function, including state, federal, and international legislative and regulatory matters.

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Jessica Bacher

Executive Director
Land Use Law Center, Pace University

Jessica Bacher is the Executive Director of the Land Use Law Center. Established in 1993, the Land Use Law Center is dedicated to fostering the development of sustainable communities and regions through the promotion of innovative land use strategies and dispute resolution techniques. As the Executive Director, Ms. Bacher’s responsibilities include development and implementation of projects relating to local land use practice, distressed property remediation, transit-oriented development, sustainable communities, land use responses to sea level rise, and code enforcement, as well as providing strategic assistance to numerous municipalities.

Most recently, she led the City of Newburgh, New York, in the development of a distressed property remediation implementation plan that focuses on the development of a land bank. Additionally, Ms. Bacher serves as a trainer for the Center’s award-winning Land Use Leadership Alliance Training Program that has educated over 2,500 local leaders in land use strategies, consensus building, and regional stewardship. Ms. Bacher also chairs the Distressed Properties Sub-Committee of the Land Use Planning & Zoning Committee for the American Bar Association’s Section of State and Local Government Law.

At Pace Law School, Ms. Bacher serves as adjunct professor, teaching Land Use Law, Sustainable Development Survey, and the Advanced Land Use and Sustainable Development Seminar. She also administers the Center’s academic programs and guides student research. In addition, she is a guest lecturer and project supervisor at Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, where she manages the School’s Land Use Clinic.

Ms. Bacher authors regular land use features in New York and national publications and has edited numerous small books in the fields of Land Use and Real Estate Law, including Breaking Ground and Planning and Building in Priority Growth Districts. She also presents at regional and national conferences and served on the New York State Sea Level Rise Task Force Legal Work Group. Ms. Bacher was selected by the American Bar Association to receive the Jefferson B. Fordham Award, an award presented to a young practitioner who has shown great promise through her contributions to the field.

Ms. Bacher received her J.D. summa cum laude from Pace Law School in 2003, along with a certificate in Environmental Law.

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