Energy Law & Utilities

Clark Hill's energy attorneys and other professionals have demonstrated creativity and initiative in creating change and developing future energy supply alternatives for its clients for decades. Consequently, those clients have been among the early beneficiaries, not victims, of the dramatic changes and new alternatives to the monopoly energy industries. Clark Hill has represented large industrial corporations, small businesses, trade groups and individuals with their energy needs and in negotiations with public utilities. In 1981, Clark Hill assisted in the formation of, and still serves as General Counsel to, the Association of Businesses Advocating Tariff Equity (ABATE), a nonprofit coalition formed to represent commercial, industrial and other large volume energy customers in gas and electric regulatory and legislative matters. Clark Hill assists ABATE and other clients in representing their viewpoint before state and federal regulators and in lobbying state legislatures and Congress on energy related matters.

At the state level, the Energy Law & Utilities practice group assists clients in a broad range of regulatory matters arising before the state Public Utility Commissions across the country. One of our primary roles is in representing clients in rate and rulemaking proceedings. Our lawyers provide assistance throughout the ratemaking process, from gathering the necessary data to supporting or challenging a rate request through actual filing. Our assistance continues through discovery, settlement negotiations, and where settlement cannot be achieved, litigation. We also provide advice and assistance in a variety of other proceedings, including utility applications, investigations and complaint cases.

At the federal level, the Energy Law & Utilities practice group has represented applicants and interveners in rate filings, litigated rate cases, certificate proceedings, rulemakings and other proceedings before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Approach:  Achieving valuable results requires the advice of professionals who are knowledgeable and who understand the complex energy, financial and commercial issues of today's global economy. Clark Hill's multi-disciplinary team approach is designed to develop sophisticated solutions and to deliver services in the most cost-effective manner which meet the needs of its clients. Clark Hill prides itself in being responsive and in keeping the client fully informed as to the progress of each project. The practical experience of the members of the Energy Law & Utilities team allows them to easily interact with clients' technical staff and consultants so that the team concept can be brought to an entire project.

Services:  Some of Clark Hill's more significant efforts to reduce its clients' utility bills include bringing gas transportation and retail choice or open access to Michigan, bypassing local gas and electric utilities, negotiating special rate contracts, development and negotiation of interruptible tariffs which permit customers to back up their utility-supplied interruptible electric service, and negotiation of rate case settlements. Clark Hill's efforts in pursuing these strategies have saved its clients literally hundreds of millions of dollars.

Experience:  Clark Hill's Energy Law & Utilities Team collectively has over 100 years of experience in all areas of energy law, utility regulation and deregulation, project development and in bringing new energy source alternatives to companies who want to break away from the sole supplier local utility monopoly, or who want to create sufficient leverage to enable them to negotiate lower utility rates. Clark Hill's ability to provide its clients with alternatives to traditional utility service is based on the extensive experience of its Energy Law & Utilities Team in representing industrial customers in utility regulatory hearings and in assisting its clients to pursue alternatives to standard utility rates.

Clark Hill's Energy Law & Utilities Team have represented commercial and industrial energy users before state and federal regulatory bodies for over four decades. During that time Clark Hill has built an admirable record in dealing with a wide variety of ratemaking issues, including nuclear plant and nuclear waste write-offs and phase-ins, utility divestitures, curtailments and gas diversions, rate design, standby rates, avoided costs, and special load retention and economic development rates for industrial customers.

We predict that large customers will have more choices and opportunities to manage their costs than they have had in the past. The barriers to access to the nationwide electric transmission grid are falling and, in fact, the Clark Hill's Energy Law & Utilities Team is in the forefront of that effort. In the future, investor-owned utilities, municipal utilities, marketers, brokers, joint ventures, and a host of other new market entrants will be in a position to sell power to retail customers. The Energy Law & Utilities Team can help manage the transition to the more competitive world, with a resultant reduction in costs. Those companies which can successfully manage the emerging markets will gain a competitive advantage over those who cannot. New opportunities will be available to all sizes of companies and if companies do not want to manage the day-to-day energy operations, there are other companies that can reasonably provide this service.

Natural Gas

One of the alternatives to local gas utility service is bypass. Clark Hill energy attorneys spearheaded this concept in Michigan and Clark Hill's legal gas bypass strategy was upheld by the United States Supreme Court. The Energy Law & Utilities Team can develop feasibility studies, arrange for FERC permits, secure easements for pipelines, negotiate interconnection agreements, procure transportation and storage agreements, negotiate construction contracts and, in general, devise a successful plan for bypass of the local gas utility. The completion of a credible feasibility study allows the client to negotiate with the local distribution company from a position of strength in order to secure lower gas transportation rates, which could make actual installation of the bypass unnecessary. The Clark Hill energy attorneys has developed feasibility studies and bypass strategies on numerous occasions which have either been implemented or have resulted in the utilities agreeing to offer reduced rates to the clients' satisfaction.  Clark Hill has assisted clients in procuring natural gas supply nationwide. This has included preparing Requests for Proposals, evaluation of the various bids and preparation of gas purchase contracts.  Finally, our energy attorneys participated in major litigation when gas suppliers have defaulted on their contracts. This litigation has been in both federal and state courts.

Utility Rates

Clark Hill has a great deal of experience in participating in utility rate matters for investor owned utilities and other clients nationwide. We have also advocated on behalf of energy marketers and brokers, technology companies, demand response companies, commercial customers and other types of clients in various regulatory proceedings.

We are extremely familiar with the effects of deregulation in Pennsylvania and in other states across the country. Our attorneys have filed applications for electric and natural gas marketers and brokers to conduct business in a state and to expand their current territory. We have provided guidance and employee training presentations and best practice guidelines to assist companies comply with the state regulations on marketing their services to customers. We have also represented clients in litigated proceedings involving utility programs, customer complaints and have negotiated settlements on their behalf.

Clark Hill has represented customers including commercial, industrial and governmental bodies in the various components of rate cases for multiple utility services. We have also negotiated and settled customer services and billing disputes for clients.

Our attorneys have represented demand response and energy efficiency companies in several states in many areas including rulemakings brought on by legislation requiring state mandated reductions in energy consumption and demand. 

Water & Wastewater

Clark Hill represents municipal water and wastewater utilities. We provide counsel on regulatory matters, in addition to rate cases, such as applications, permitting issues, distribution system improvement charge filings, enforcement actions and billing disputes.

Experience

Representation of a public oil and energy exploration company in its strategic acquisition/merger of another public oil and energy exploration company.

Represented Pennsylvania based E&P company in connection with substantial private equity investment by major private equity fund and assisted in subsequent sale of entire company to international energy company
Counsel to a Pennsylvania wind energy company related to its ownership and investments.