Energy

legs of an oil well going into the water

The Inflation Reduction Act is driving unprecedented investment in renewable energy development in the United States, while the Energy Information Administration forecasts that natural gas development in the United States will continue to grow through 2050.  Concerns about climate change are driving new regulations and creating both new challenges and new opportunities in the energy industry for developers and public utilities. States, cities, public utilities and private companies are pursuing decarbonization goals, driving development of renewable energy, transmission, storage, and distributed energy resources. Advances in technology are altering the competitive landscape and speeding a move away from centralized models of power generation. Resilience and reliability of the electric grid remains a major concern due to severe weather and natural disasters. 

Saul Ewing attorneys have extensive experience advising a wide variety of participants in the energy industry. Our clients include power plants; energy companies; natural gas and electric public utilities; wind power developers, owners and users; solar developers and contractors; owners and operators of interstate natural gas transmission pipelines as well as inter- and intrastate renewable energy transmission; renewable energy storage facilities; lenders; and investors. We assist these and other entities with their real estate, environmental, regulatory, transactional and litigation needs. 

Our areas of focus include:

We advise on the following areas: 

  • Permitting: securing air, water and solid waste permits required by local, state, and federal environmental authorities, as well as other types of permits, such as agreements with Native American tribes
  • Appellate Litigation Relating to Permitting:  appeals of project permits by project opponents in federal and state courts
  • Real Estate and Eminent Domain: assisting with the acquisition of land or property rights through purchase, eminent domain, or negotiation of easements and land access agreements; advising on CERCLA and other environmental issues arising from real estate transactions
  • Rate and Regulatory Proceedings: appearing before state public utility commissions to secure approvals of mergers and acquisitions, rate increases and numerous other types of regulatory proceedings
  • Due Diligence: performing state and local environmental, real estate, land use, tax, permitting, and state utility commission regulatory due diligence in connection with mergers, assets sales/acquisitions, and financings
  • Construction Litigation:  handling disputes with project contractors
  • Federal, State and Local Tax: advising on income (including tax credits), property, transfer and other tax issues
  • Financing: representing lenders, investors and owners in securing funds for energy projects 
  • Zoning, Land Use and Subdivision: securing approvals on local and state levels
  • Federal and State Regulatory Commissions: representing clients at all stages of project approval proceedings 
  • Interconnections: assisting clients with grid interconnections to individual users, utilities or the regional grid
  • Ports and Maritime: counseling on the onshore facilitation of offshore wind projects, including access agreements, interconnection approvals, and compliance with federal and state ports and maritime law
  • Government and Community Relations: managing a variety of political and local issues on behalf of our clients
  • Operations: providing general counseling and strategic planning advice; advising on compliance with changing federal, state and local laws, regulations and government policies; and representing clients in government investigations
  • Corporate Transactions: assisting clients with mergers, acquisitions, dispositions and financings 
  • Contracting: drafting and negotiating agreements regarding procurement, equipment purchase, construction, installation, operation and maintenance, and the purchase or sale of power or energy projects
  • End-of-Life Facilities: advising on plant decommissioning and facility conversions
  • Enforcement Actions: defending clients in civil, criminal or administrative enforcement actions or ensuing litigation
  • Disputes and Litigation: representing clients in federal and state trial and appellate courts and alternative dispute resolution forums when disputes arise from projects

 

Key Contacts
Elizabeth Witmer
Colleen A. Foley
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Experience

Saul Ewing attorneys have represented clients in these select energy matters:

Power Plants

  • The owner and operator of a coal-fired electric power generating station on securing new, renewed and modified environmental permits, including a Title V operating permit and numerous permits related to stormwater discharge, water quality management, solid waste management, waterway obstructions, and encroachments. We also represented the station before the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) and the Environmental Hearing Board in enforcement matters and permit appeals.
  • An energy company in negotiating a landmark settlement agreement with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and U.S. Department of Justice related to the company’s voluntary self-disclosures of probable wetland and stream violations associated with natural gas well sites. Our team counseled the company through an internal environmental audit of more than 500 natural gas well pad locations in Pennsylvania, covering more than 14,000 acres of land.
  • A nuclear and gas power generator in conducting due diligence analysis for the proposed acquisition of an energy company’s nuclear fuel business and assets.

Wind Energy

  • An industrial group that operates and supplies components within the renewable energy sector in environmental, real estate, regulatory and tax matters on local and state levels and PPAs in the acquisition and financing of a wind project in the Allegheny Mountains of Western Maryland, including providing required legal opinions. 
  • Lenders in conducting state and local due diligence on a $286 million construction loan for a 200-megawatt wind project in Minnesota, with a footprint of about 25,000 acres. We also advised on a judicial challenge to the regulatory approvals. 
  • An offshore wind company as developer’s counsel, handling contract and lease negotiations, land use and property acquisitions, environmental permitting and brownfields projects, compliance matters, and approvals of construction plans in both Maryland and Delaware associated with its federal leases off the coast of Maryland. We represented this client before the Maryland Public Service Commission, which awarded the company Offshore Renewable Energy Credits to fund the construction of the company’s Maryland offshore wind project. 
  • An offshore wind developer as local counsel on issues including state and local sales tax, labor, construction and mechanic’s liens regarding the construction of a wind project located off the coast of New Jersey, including onshore assets such as interconnection and manufacturing facilities.

Solar Energy

  • A power company in providing state and local due diligence in its acquisition of more than 20 solar power facilities in multiple states from an electric and gas company for approximately $500 million. Our team advised on real estate, environmental permitting, zoning, regulatory and tax matters.
  • A regional developer of large utility-scale solar facilities as it seeks to develop projects in the mid-Atlantic. We assisted in the legislative process that led to a successful code amendment that permits solar facilities by right in virtually all zoning categories in the relevant jurisdiction, subject to certain established conditions. 
  • A solar energy company in the negotiation, tax and corporate structuring, and closing of a combined $50 million debt/equity investment by a financier that will allow the company to accelerate its acquisition, development, construction and management of community solar plants primarily in the Northeast.
  • A renewable energy company in land use-related issues associated with the placement of utility-scale solar facilities and legislative changes needed to permit the use of right-of-way for non-regulated entity transmission lines.

Pipelines & Linear Transmission

  • Two major U.S. pipeline developers in their efforts to obtain air and water permits in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey, and before the Delaware River Basin Commission and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission. We also defended and prosecuted permit challenges in state and federal court.  
  • A major pipeline developer in successfully obtaining all necessary federal and state permits and approval for a $3 billion greenfield pipeline project in Pennsylvania.
  • An offshore wind company in the purchase and sale agreement to acquire land from an integrated power company to create an onshore substation and point of interconnection with the grid for the company’s electrical transmission cable. 
  • An offshore wind developer with permitting and land use issues for the development of transmission in bringing electricity from the coast of New Jersey to the New York and New Jersey power grids. Advised on a complex bid offering to PJM and the New Jersey BPU as part of an initiative referred to as the State Agreement Approach.
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