The emerging renewable energy industries are as heavily regulated as more conventional energy industries like oil and gas are. Consequently, renewable energy law jobs exist within many organizations whose work is either governed by legal regulations or aimed at changing them. Not all of these jobs are for attorneys; rather, many are simply best performed by professionals who have a detailed understanding of the state, local and federal regulations that pertain to their specific industry.
Read about four types of renewable energy jobs that are best performed with legal expertise in hand, and consider whether a master’s degree in energy law might be an effective way to prepare to thrive in one of them.
Renewable Energy Executive: Aim for the Top
Executives at energy companies rise through the ranks by building expertise that enables them to make decisive and effective decisions. For companies in regulated industries, this includes a keen awareness of the legal frameworks that govern their companies’ activities and products. Major strategic decisions made at renewable energy companies such as the location of resources and equipment and the amount of output to produce rely on just such legal expertise.
Chief executive officers (CEOs) must possess this renewable energy law knowledge as it pertains to the totality of their organizations’ functions, and other C-level roles would similarly benefit from understanding the law. Chief financial officers (CFOs), for instance, must understand relevant energy laws in order to gauge the costs associated with complying with them, and chief organizational officers (CFOs) must similarly be able to plan for the allocation of internal resources and workflows to assure regulatory compliance.
Renewable Energy Advocate: Fighting the Good Fight
Perhaps the renewable energy jobs most deeply engaged with laws and regulations are those found in advocacy groups fighting to expand the reach and significance of green sources of energy. These professionals often work for specific industries like wind or solar power,1 and their efforts may directly oppose those of similar legislatively minded operatives advocating on behalf of conventional fossil fuel industries.
Representatives from these groups also are responsible for lobbying state and federal governments on their industries’ behalf, often seeking to have renewable energy sources supported in the form of tax breaks and subsidies exchanged for their adoption. Their work requires extensive knowledge of existing legislation and the legislative process, as well as a clear sense of the legal mechanisms that can propel the widespread adoption of renewable energy. Formalized training in the current regulatory landscape is a great way to build the expertise needed to join in this vital conversation.
Landmen: Not Just for Oil Anymore
Often ranking among the top jobs in the U.S., landmen are public-facing representatives of energy companies.2 These energy industry professionals are responsible for negotiating with landowners for the rights to operate on their land. Conventionally, this meant securing extraction rights for materials such as petroleum, natural gas or coal. Knowledge of the regulations governing these industries, particularly licensing laws and environmental protections, is essential to the success of this role.
In recent years, as alternative and renewable energy sources have grown in importance for their crucial role in combating global climate change, landman roles have emerged serving these developing industries. The massive arrays of equipment necessary to harvest wind and solar energy must also be strategically located, and it is up to legally savvy landmen to successfully secure the land rights for their construction and operation.3
Construction Managers: Building a Green Future
As the title indicates, construction managers are responsible for overseeing the construction and maintenance of buildings, structures and systems. They both lead the teams of personnel responsible for the physical construction itself, and they keep tabs on whether a given project is coming in at or under budget and whether it is in compliance with safety, labor and environmental regulations. Construction manager roles are desirable and growing, with an average salary of $93,370 and an expected increase in jobs of 11.1% by 2026.4
Within the energy industries, construction managers are increasingly being deployed on renewable energy projects, overseeing the construction and maintenance of wind farms, solar arrays and hydroelectric dams. These projects must be managed with a detailed understanding of the regulations governing output and safety across the various renewable energy industries. Construction managers for other projects may also benefit from knowledge of renewable energy laws, as these regulations will have an impact on the layout and efficiency of energy sources used in large buildings.
Master Energy Law at Tulane University
The online Master of Jurisprudence (MJ) in Energy Law at Tulane University Law School is a unique opportunity to add a targeted body of regulatory expertise to your skill set. If you plan to work in or adjacent to a renewable energy industry, it could be the difference you need to launch or accelerate your career journey.
1. Retrieved on October 28, 2020, from solartribune.com/get-involved/
2. Retrieved on October 28, 2020, from landman.org/about/who-we-are/what-is-a-landman
3. Retrieved on October 28, 2020, from ilandman.com/other-users/wind-energy/
4. Retrieved on October 28, 2020, from businessinsider.com/high-demand-renewable-energy-jobs-of-the-future-2019-8