NEWARK, N.J. – April 1, 2019 – Cozen O’Connor today announced the hiring of two energy and utility industry stalwarts — attorneys Gregory Eisenstark and Michael J. Connolly, who join the firm’s Utility, Environmental & Energy group as a member and of counsel, respectively. Both come to Cozen O’Connor from Windels Marx, where they were part of that firm’s Energy and Utilities practice. They will lead the opening of the firm’s newest office in Newark, N.J., and will further solidify the firm as the preferred choice of many of the Mid-Atlantic region’s largest public utilities for state regulatory matters.
Prior to entering private practice, each played key roles at major, high-profile players in the U.S. electric power industry. Eisenstark, a regulatory, transactional and litigation attorney, served as associate General Regulatory Counsel for New Jersey’s Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG),one of the 10 largest electric power companies in the U.S.; as well as managing attorney, electric, for the New Jersey Division of Ratepayer Advocate and Deputy Attorney General of New Jersey.
Connolly served as vice president for law at GPU Service Inc. and its energy company affiliates — Jersey Central Power & Light, Metropolitan Edison Company and Pennsylvania Electric Company (before GPU merged with FirstEnergy Corp.). In that capacity, he led the Legal and Claims departments of each of those companies.
Eisenstark and Connolly will bring with them Jersey Central Power & Light and New Jersey Resources, among other clients. The firm’s existing New Jersey-based utility clients include New Jersey-American Water, South Jersey Gas, Elizabethtown Gas, Atlantic City Sewerage Company, Talen Energy, and Orsted. “I have known Greg and Mike for many years, in their various capacities. They are considered by the public utility and energy community to be great lawyers of true integrity. I am thrilled that they are joining Cozen O’Connor,” says Ira Megdal, who spearheads Cozen O'Connor’s New Jersey public utility and energy practice.
“In a regulated field as complex as the utility industry, experience is the difference between success and failure,” says Michael Heller, Cozen O’Connor’s Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Greg and Mike bring executive-level experience to clients on rate making, acquisition approvals, and rulemakings and are ideally suited to spearhead our Newark office. Our full-service capabilities, geographic footprint, rates, and collegial culture provide an ideal platform for utility practitioners such as Greg and Mike. Moreover, our growth strategy aligns nicely with the growth strategies of our utility clients; we share common goals.”
“With issues ranging from electric restructuring to offshore wind projects, the power industry continues to undergo major, fundamental changes,” says Jeffrey A. Leonard, chair of the firm’s Business Law Department. “Greg and Mike have played leading roles in guiding New Jersey electric utilities through those changes, including the rapid growth of the state’s renewable energy market. Now they’ve taken the lead on what is a very important strategic step for Cozen O’Connor, and I’m thrilled to welcome them to the firm.”
Eisenstark has litigated hundreds of utility rate and regulatory filings to successful completion in state, federal and appellate courts. He was the primary author of New Jersey legislation that permits electric utilities to own renewable generation, implement energy efficiency measures and earn a full return on the investments. He also successfully defended, in both state and federal courts, a New Jersey Board of Public Utilities decision allowing utilities to retain ownership of renewable energy certificates for pre-existing power purchase contracts.
Earlier in his career, Eisenstark was managing attorney, electric, for the New Jersey Division of Ratepayer Advocate, where he represented utility customers in matters before state regulatory agencies and courts. In that capacity, he played an active role in the transformation of the PJM Interconnection — a regional transmission organization that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in all or parts of 13 states and Washington D.C.— from a power pool to an independent system operator. Before that, he was a deputy attorney general of New Jersey, where he represented the Board of Public Utilities and Department of Environmental Protection in utility and solid waste industry matters.
Connolly’s career encompasses a period of major state and federal regulatory and industry-related policy changes and initiatives as well, including electric industry restructuring, generation divestiture, and Public Utility Holding Company Act repeal initiatives, with which he was involved in various advising and management capacities.
He advises and represents electric utility clients on utility regulatory and policy issues and related regulatory proceedings involving reliability issues, regulatory audits, regulatory complaint proceedings, utility rates, and tariff matters. He has represented utility client interests in connection with administrative rulemakings, including with respect to customer service, reliability, vegetation management, main extensions, affiliate standards, renewable energy, and distributed generation regulations. He represents utility clients in substation siting matters, reliability-related investigations, and management and other regulatory audits.
He also brings extensive experience advising clients regarding public utility holding company service company and affiliate interest compliance matters. He has assisted utility clients in the development and/or implementation of innovative programs such as the SREC (Solar Renewable Energy Credits) — based financing program; practiced and appeared before the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court; and advised non-utility clients in connection with contractual and transactional issues associated with renewable energy projects.
About Cozen O’Connor
Established in 1970, Cozen O’Connor has more than 800 attorneys who help clients manage risk and make better business decisions. The firm counsels clients on their most sophisticated legal matters in all areas of the law, including litigation, corporate, and regulatory law. Representing a broad array of leading global corporations and middle market companies, Cozen O’Connor services its clients’ needs through 32 offices across two continents.