Partner hails electricity bounty

Regional law firms can expect lucrative new work from alternative energy generators, according to energy partner Stephen Barnard of Herbert Smith, which represents the 12 Regional Electricity Companies (RECs) of England and Wales.

Barnard acts for a jointly-owned REC company which has just signed contracts to buy power from 195 potential renewable power generators throughout the country. The contracts are the fourth and largest tender for renewable power contracts ordered by Ian Lang, the Trade and Industry Secretary, who sets the amount of non-renewable power to be bought and specifies the type of non-renewable resources it should come from.

Barnard said: “There will be a lot of small power projects which will need financing over the next few years. This means a lot of work for lawyers.”

He claimed the Government was keen to encourage them and suggested the Labour Party was even keener. Some of the projects involve large existing generators such as Powergen.

Not all the power stations will be built, however, since contracts only become binding when the generators commission a power station. Before they do this, they have to obtain planning permission, a major sticking point, particularly for the 55 projects planning wind farms. “About two thirds of projects go ahead,” said Barnard.