David Zambito, co-chair of Cozen O’Connor’s Utility, Environmental & Energy Practice Group, discusses the impact that federal tax reform may have on utility rates in the Central Penn Business Journal.
Cozen O’Connor’s utility, environmental, and energy practice guides clients through complex regulatory approvals by state public utility commissions and departments of environmental protection, as well as represents clients in transactions, litigation, enforcement actions, and federal regulatory proceedings.
We represent public utilities, infrastructure investment funds, power producers, competitive retail suppliers, municipalities and municipal authorities, large institutional and manufacturing consumers, exploration and production companies, technology companies, and corporate clients. Cozen O’Connor attorneys have decades of relevant legal experience, both in private practice and as state and federal regulatory agency counsel.
State-Regulated Public Utilities
Cozen O’Connor has a premier state-based utility regulatory practice. Led by former counsel to the chair of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, our attorneys have the requisite knowledge and relationships to help utility clients achieve success. Our clients include water and wastewater, electric, natural gas, steam and chilled water, transportation, and telecommunications service providers. We represent clients before state public utility commissions in a range of matters: base rate, acquisition, certificate of public convenience, fair market valuation, gas and steam cost, distribution system improvement charge, electric and natural gas supplier licensing, formal complaints and investigations, securities registration, management audits, affiliated interest, land use, and zoning preemption, transmission line siting, rail-highway crossing, rulemaking, policy-making, and tariff proceedings.
Water, Wastewater & Stormwater
The water, wastewater, and stormwater utility sectors, including investor-owned utilities as well as municipal and authority-owned systems, face unique regulatory and commercial challenges that require counsel with a deep understanding of the law, infrastructure, and operations. Cozen O’Connor’s national water, wastewater, and stormwater practice, which includes the former general counsel of water utilities located in six states and of a national water and wastewater management services company, handles clients’ most critical transactions and litigation. We guide the sale and long-term lease of water, wastewater, and stormwater systems; negotiate management services contracts; site controversial facilities; assist development of filtration plants, pump stations, and water towers; negotiate power purchase agreements; provide guidance on public/private partnerships; handle litigation involving water allocation permits; guide providers on lead contamination issues; and resolve water, wastewater, and stormwater-related enforcement actions and litigation.
Cozen O’Connor represents common carriers of passengers and property (such as taxi cab, transportation network, household goods moving, shipping, trucking, and autonomous vehicle companies), as well as transportation logistics companies, in state and federal regulatory matters and disputes. We assist clients with market entry, base rate requests, and certificate of public convenience applications; help navigate complex compliance and enforcement issues; and provide commercial contract review and drafting services. We are also known for our litigation work, representing transportation companies in state and federal courts. We handle disputes related to high-level citations; metering, service, and billing issues; and equal protection and Section 1983 claims. When necessary, our attorneys have successfully challenged the constitutionality of transportation laws in the appellate courts.
Customer Complaint Defense
Cozen O’ Connor recognizes that a significant challenge for state-regulated public utilities is the effective management of customer complaint cases. The disputes often involve a small dollar amount or a minor service issue; yet, discovery and a full-blown evidentiary hearing is required by the state public utility commission. Using alternative fee arrangements and junior attorneys/staff supervised by experienced utility lawyers, our firm is able to manage customer complaint cases in an efficient and economical manner while keeping a keen-eyed view of broader policy issues that may be implicated by a case.
Environmental Enforcement & Litigation
A renowned trial firm, Cozen O’Connor represents clients in environmental litigation and enforcement matters. We litigate permit appeals, agency enforcement actions, administrative rule challenges, toxic torts, pollution and contamination, and a host of other environmental claims. Our attorneys respond to government inquiries, conduct internal investigations or audits, and regularly appear before state and federal administrative boards and trial courts. Cozen O’Connor pursues negotiated resolutions whenever possible, but is fully prepared to go to court when necessary.
Regulatory Compliance & Permitting
Our team is led by former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency enforcement attorneys and is deeply knowledgeable about federal environmental statutes, regulations, and state-level equivalents, including the Clean Air and Clean Water acts (CAA & CWA), Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation & Liability Act (CERCLA), Resources Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA), Emergency Planning & Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA), Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA), and other federal and state environmental laws and regulations. We assist clients with air and water permitting; provide environmental, health, and safety auditing support and protocol design; conduct due diligence, environmental liability allocation, and environmental insurance review on major transactions; and advise clients on matters related to climate change and global warming.
Helping clients manage ownership and reclamation of contaminated properties is a core part of our environmental practice. We assist with purchase, sale, remediation, and development of impaired sites, and defend against any related claims. Cozen O’Connor provides regulatory and litigation counsel with respect to CERCLA, RCRA, “Natural Resource Damages” claims, state brownfields laws and industrial site remediation acts, and other statutes. Our attorneys understand both the scientific, regulatory, and financial imperatives that drive decision making about site remediation.
Oil & Gas
The firm provides corporate, regulatory, and litigation services to upstream, midstream and downstream oil and gas clients. We help exploration and production (E&P) companies, oil field service companies, vendors, suppliers, gathering and pipeline companies, refineries, and investors complete transactions, pursue land and access rights, negotiate operational agreements, file comments to rulemakings, and achieve environmental and other regulatory compliance. Our team also represents clients in diverse litigation and enforcement actions before state and federal courts and administrative agencies. We have notable experience working with companies developing the Marcellus and Utica shales, having won precedent-setting cases on behalf of our clients regarding oil and gas royalties, post-production costs, surface use, and lease expiration issues. Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies, the firm’s government affairs affiliate, also assists with achieving the regulatory and legislative goals of our E&P, pipeline, and downstream clients.
Combined Heat & Power
Cozen O’Connor is an industry leader in combined heat and power (CHP) projects, an increasingly viable option for large energy users to reduce costs, become energy resilient, and generate revenue. The firm has led CHP projects for universities, health systems, data centers, industrial firms, and hotel/resort/casino complexes. We handle: every phase of project development, including due diligence, energy sales and design, build, operating agreements; financeable land leases; regulatory advice; land use and environmental permitting; tax exempt and taxable finance; public/private partnership transactions; land and easement acquisition; incentive programs; and tax planning. Cozen O’Connor also has strong relationships with developers and consultants in the field, enabling the firm to deliver turn-key projects to its clients. Our affiliate, Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies, has experience deftly addressing public concerns and ushering projects through review.
Cozen O’Connor’s fully integrated energy and environmental practice is optimally designed for the renewable energy space. Our attorneys have deep experience with solar, wind, hydro-electric, and biofuels, and we regularly represent utility companies, renewable energy developers, manufacturers, investors, lenders, and energy consumers. Cozen O’Connor leads renewable energy projects from start to finish, managing negotiation of sophisticated commercial contracts, pursuit of government incentives, regulatory filings and compliance, federal and state agency outreach, and all aspects of renewable project financing, tax strategy, real estate, land use, and zoning.