Brennen is a real estate and project development lawyer who serves as co-lead of the firm’s renewable energy team. He provides developers, infrastructure funds, energy utilities and real estate holding companies with real estate transactional and land-use guidance on a wide range of development and infrastructure projects, with a particular focus on renewable energy projects, conventional energy projects, logistics centers, industrial facilities, and commercial/mixed-use projects.
Brennen partners with clients to implement their business strategies at all stages of energy project development and related matters, including early-stage development, project acquisition and development, project construction, financing, and investment, and project dispositions. He also has extensive experience assisting energy project developers seeking local land use approvals in Virginia, including the negotiation of siting agreements for those projects.
Brennen also has experience representing project developers on economic development transactions, including the negotiation of economic incentives agreements.
- Assist an energy company negotiate over 100 separate land option contracts for properties totaling over 100,000 acres of land in the PJM territory, which contracts provide the client with a pipeline of properties for the development of a significant number of utility-scale solar and energy storage projects. Brennen also assists that client in its development and permitting efforts for individual projects on those properties.
- Representation of an energy company in the acquisition, development and construction of over 40 solar energy projects in multiple states in three time zones with a total production capacity of over 1,800 megawatts.
- Representation of an energy company in the acquisition and development of multiple development-stage solar energy projects in Virginia.
- Representation of an energy company in the acquisition and permitting of several energy storage projects in Virginia.
- Representation of a solar and energy storage developer on real estate and permitting issues for the development of a pipeline of projects in the PJM territory.
- Representation of a private equity fund in project development, construction financing and tax equity investment matters related to the development of multiple large-scale wind energy projects and energy storage projects in several states.
- Representation of a public utility in the MISO territory in the negotiation of build transfer agreements for the acquisition of multiple wind projects.
- Advise an energy company as it repositioned land with environmental constraints for the development of solar energy projects on those properties.
- Representation of an energy company in obtaining local permitting for a 150 MW solar project with an on-site data center development that could include up to 1 million square feet under roof for the data center.
- Representation of an energy company on land use and real estate matters for the construction of four separate gas-fired power generation facilities (ranging from 590 MW to almost 1,600 MW).
- Representation of a wind project developer on land use matters for what is anticipated to be the first wind energy project to be developed in Virginia.
- Representation of the owner of a large coal-fired electric generation facility in obtaining local land use and siting approvals, and the negotiation of related agreements, to permit reclamation of large a coal-ash storage facility.
- Representation of an energy project developer and operator in obtaining local land use approvals for construction of a renewable natural gas facility.
Commercial, Industrial and Mixed-Use Developments
- Representation of a national developer on local land use and real estate matters for the siting of multiple logistics centers in Central Virginia
- Representation of large retailer in the review of local land use entitlements and the negotiation of local incentives for two large distribution facilities located in Central Virginia.
- Representation of a retail center developer in obtaining rezoning approval for over 200,000 square foot retail center, including a 135,000 square foot grocery store anchor, on an infill property located in a Central Virginia locality. The grocery store anchor later hired Brennen to obtain additional entitlements for the store.
- Representation of a Richmond-area developer in obtaining several zoning approvals for NorthLake, a 400-acre industrial/commercial development in Hanover County, Virginia with over 1.3 million square feet of space now developed. Brennen assisted the developer in the acquisition of the real estate for the project and negotiation for the sale of portions of the project to other developers. He also assisted the developer in obtaining a commitment of public funds for construction of road and water infrastructure for the project.
- Representation of granite mining companies in seeking various land use approvals for development of new mining operations and the expansion or continuation of existing mining operations.
- Representation of the subsidiary of an Indian-based pharmaceutical-grade gelatin manufacturer to obtain zoning approvals for the subsidiary’s North American headquarters and distribution center.
- Representation of several residential project developers in Central Virginia on new development projects for a mix of residential types, including single family detached project, townhouse projects and multi-family developments.
University of Richmond School of LawJD
Member and Executive Editor, University of Richmond Law Review1996
- Guilford CollegeBS1991
Board Member, 2013 to present; Board Chair, 2021 to present, Richmond CultureWorks
Board Member, 2010 to 2014; Board Chair, 2012-13, Chesterfield Chamber of Commerce
Board Member, Richmond Symphony Orchestra, 2014 to present
President, Board of Directors, Guilford College Alumni Association, 2005-2007
- Moderator, "Utility Perspectives on Meeting New Clean Energy Goals", Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Summit, December 9, 2020
- Speaker, "Solar Energy Land Use and Zoning Issues: Key Regulations, Large-Scale Use Factors and Conflicts, Agreements, Credits", Renewable Energy in Virginia, October 16, 2020
- Speaker, "Solar Energy Land Use and Zoning Issues: Key Regulations, Large-Scale Use Factors and Conflicts, Agreements, Credits", Renewable Energy in Virginia, Strafford Publications, Inc., CLE Webinar, September 23, 2020
- Panelist, Update on Virginia’s Renewable Energy Market, Webinar, September 12, 2019
- Speaker, "Virginia's Proffer Statute", Rural Planning Caucus of Virginia, October 2017
- Speaker, "Solar Energy Project Development and Land Use Issues", Virginia Local Government Attorneys Association, Fall 2017
- Speaker, "Getting Projects Approved in the Age of Social Media", Land Use in the 21st Century: Getting Projects Approved in the Age of Social Media, November 2016
- Speaker, "Land Use and Real Estate Issues for Solar Development", Rural Planning Caucus of Virginia, October 2016
- Speaker, "A Case Study on Watkins Center", presented by the Virginia Chapter of the Urban Land Institute, June 2016
- Speaker, "Wind Energy Project Development", Virginia Bar Association Winter Meeting, 2015
- Speaker, "Zoning and Land Use Issues", Virginia Land Law Seminar, July 2011
Named to “Legal Elite,” Real Estate/Land Use, Virginia Business, 2012-2015, 2017, 2019, 2020, 2023
Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America, Land Use and Zoning Law, Real Estate Law, 2018-2024; Energy Law, 2024; Woodward/White, Inc.,
Selected for inclusion in “Legal 500 United States,” Energy: Renewable/Alternative Power; Project Finance, 2021, 2022, 2023
Selected for inclusion in America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use, Southern Virginia, Chambers USA, 2017-2023
Named a “Project Finance & Infrastructure Distinguished Adviser,” Financier Worldwide, 2021
Named to “Virginia Rising Stars,” Land Use/Zoning, Real Estate, Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters, 2007-2009
Named to the Real Estate Circle of Excellence by the Kornblau Real Estate Program, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business
- Author, Local Limits on Small-Scale Solar Projects Clash With Virginia Energy Policy, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, June 24, 2021
- Author, Virginia Clean Economy Act Promises to Increase Development of Distributed Renewables, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, July 1, 2020
- Author, Virginia’s New Solar Project Development Laws Offer Opportunities and Potential Risks, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, May 5, 2020
- Author, Richmond’s ‘Unabashedly Urban’ Rezoning Plan May Foster Commercial Development, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, June 26, 2017
- Author, Fast Buses May Bring Major Development Opportunities to Richmond, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, May 23, 2017
- Author, Some Local Government Responses to New Virginia Proffer Statute Concern Developers, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, December 21, 2016
- Author, Chesterfield’s New Proffer Policy Explained, but Questions Remain, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, November 22, 2016
- Author, Hazardous Choice: EPA Proposes Competing Coal Ash Rules, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, June 14, 2010
- Author, EPA’s Proposed Stormwater Regulations Could Significantly Impact Virginia Localities and Developers in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, March 10, 2010
- Author, Virginia Land Use Legislative Update, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, March 10, 2010
- Author, Land Use: A Follow-Up to the Hale Decision, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, June 29, 2009
- Author, Land Use Update: Virginia Judicial and Legislative Changes, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, May 13, 2009
- Author, Land Use: VDOT Update, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, April 27, 2009