As today’s society evolves, individuals are looking to have more choices available concerning how to meet their energy needs. Afterall, each industry has different needs, including energy needs. Environmental concerns are prevalent in today’s society, so companies are looking to explore other options, including sources of renewable energy that have the potential to combat the factors contributing to climate change. Solar Appreciation Day promotes the use of solar energy, recognizing that solar is a viable energy option. This article shows how the use of solar energy is rising in various states; however, there are aspects of solar energy that are not always at the forefront of our minds. Even though solar panels are a form of renewable energy, there is still the issue of waste and pollution generated from those very solar panels. Like any form of energy, clean energy also has its challenges. This article will explore how various entities, such as contractors and asset owners, should be cognizant of how pollution exposure could greatly impact their industry, including the various risk exposures that could be present currently or in the future.

  • H&L Farms LLC v. Silicon Ranch Corporation, 2023 WL 6973211 (GA, 2023)

In 2023, a solar panel facility hired a company to perform the construction of the panels. The construction of the panels meant that trees and other vegetation had to be removed so that the installation could occur. While this project was underway, rain moved sediment to a neighboring property, which resulted in the pollution of a lake, streams, and other wetlands. This event even led to the lake turning an orange color. Even after the installation was complete, the pollution continued for another two years. The court held that the solar project owners were liable to the neighboring property owners for approximately five million dollars in damages.

  • Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Dynamic Energy Solutions, LLC (MA, 2020)

In 2021, Dynamic Energy Solutions (Dynamic), a solar energy development company, settled for 1.14 million dollars after a lawsuit was filed against them for disregarding pollutant requirements for construction sites. According to the Attorney General, while Dynamic was building an 18.5-acre solar array, they caused issues such as eroding of a hillside, uprooting trees, filling in wetlands with sediment, and causing a brown river. Dynamic failed to comply with construction requirements which resulted in roughly 97,000 square feet to be covered with sediment pollution. This mistake that Dynamic made resulted in a large settlement and the pollution of the environment.

Possibilities for Solar Advancement as Technology Evolves and States Respond

As technology advances, the ability for solar panels to deliver an increased amount of power is following suit as well. According to Environment America Research & Policy Center, solar projects can now deliver ten times more power than they did a decade ago. Since renewable energy is becoming more practical as technology advances, states have enacted legislation to show their commitment to explore alternative forms of energy. For example, Maryland’s Governor has committed to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035. Georgia is already in the process of installing 1,600 solar panels on their classic center, which is an incredibly large building designed to hold conventions that accommodate over 6,000 people. Other states, such as Texas and Illinois, are investing in solar panels as well. San Antonio, a city in Texas, is undergoing a thirty-million-dollar project to install solar panels across the city; this will account for 11 percent of the city’s electricity consumption. Illinois has developed a state solar program that has resulted in 60,000 new rooftop solar installations.

As demonstrated, there are several states that are trying to expand energy sources to encompass renewable energy. Even Syracuse, New York, known as the fourteenth cloudiest city in the nation, has the ability to switch some of its energy sources to solar. According to, as of 2020 there were roughly five proposals for the development of different solar farms around the Syracuse area.  New York State’s Governor has also announced the state’s eventual deployment of 75,000 solar panels, which has the ability to power roughly 7,000 homes, according to the New York Power Authority. New York’s goal is to have 70 percent of its electricity sourced from renewable energy.

While there are benefits to solar panel utilization, it is also important to understand the consequences of moving to any form of renewable energy. There is no doubt that implementing renewable energy can help to reduce the depletion of nonrenewable energy; however, installing solar panels also has the same ability to negatively impact the environment.

As shown, renewable energy does not come with zero pollutants or problems. This means that it is in the best interest of contractors and asset owners to obtain coverage in their policies in case an issue arises. Contractor’s Pollutant Liability (CPL) and Environmental Impairment Liability (EIL) are policies that can aid in the event of a sudden, accidental, and gradual pollution event. According to International Risk Management Institute, CPL and EIL provide third-party coverage or bodily injuries, damage to property, which usually includes the diminution in value for tangible property, and cleanup. CPL and EIL can also come into play when a contractor or asset owner is responsible for paying fines and penalties, such as punitive damages, due to a pollution event.

Getting coverage with these polices instead of just obtaining General Liability (GL) will allow the policy holder to be covered by a wider array of pollutants. The definition of pollutants that GL tends to cover usually does not encompass as many pollutants as CPL and EIL. CPL and EIL on the other hand have robust definitions and cover way more pollutants for the insured. Pollutants that are often covered under CPL and EIL, which are not normally covered under GL, include electromagnetic fields and silt and sediment that go beyond the jobsite or insured site.

With the creation of new resources to obtain energy, there are a plethora of options to choose from for your energy needs. Solar Appreciation Day promotes the viable option of solar. However, even with solar being a renewable energy, there are still real risks of pollution that can occur. Therefore, having coverage to combat the pollutants that may rise from solar energy is imperative.

By: Camee Hughes, In-House Legal Extern for Synapse Partners LLC

Synapse Services offers insurance coverage options for an expansive number of industries. Please contact one of our producers if you are interested in receiving additional information about the availability of insurance options specifically tailored to your industry.

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