Power Plants

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Saul Ewing attorneys understand the issues associated with energy generation, and the regulatory challenges facing fossil fuel and nuclear energy production in particular. We guide clients through the life cycle of energy production, generation and distribution. Our clients include natural gas producers and their service providers, natural gas power plants and their service providers, coal-fired power plants, lenders, investors, and energy companies involved in nuclear power generation. We provide these entities with permitting, siting and compliance support; litigation and enforcement defense; public outreach advice; and regulatory and governmental affairs assistance. 

Our team routinely advises clients on the following:

  • Environmental Permitting: helping clients obtain permits from the U.S. EPA and state and local environmental agencies for material extraction, facility siting, construction, and operation 
  • Corporate Transactions: assisting clients with mergers, acquisitions, dispositions and financings 
  • Due Diligence: conducting due diligence for real estate, environmental, land use, and tax issues; helping to identify risks and mitigate or manage them
  • Compliance: guiding clients through compliance with changing federal, state, and local laws, regulations, and government policies
  • Real Estate: assisting with the acquisition of land and negotiating land access agreements; reviewing buyer-protection statutes; and advising on CERCLA and other environmental issues associated with real estate transactions
  • Operations: providing general counseling and strategic planning advice; representing clients in government investigations
  • Enforcement Actions: defending clients in civil, criminal or administrative enforcement actions or ensuing litigation
  • End-of-Life Facilities: advising on plant decommissioning and facility conversions

We have considerable experience helping our clients successfully meet their compliance obligations and fend off threats, such as third-party challenges to government-issued permits. Our significant energy industry practice bolsters our work on behalf of energy generators and producers, whether we are negotiating with project opponents or advising on regulatory compliance.  

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Saul Ewing attorneys have represented clients in these select matters:


  • 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. The engagement also included: obtaining plan approvals for installation of scrubbers and defending these approvals against third-party appeals and renewal of a coal mining activity permit for a coal cleaning plant/coal refuse disposal facility and mine water treatment facility. In addition, we represented the station before the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) and the Environmental Hearing Board in enforcement matters and permit appeals.
  • A coal-fired power station in obtaining a major modification to its residual waste landfill permit. The modification will provide additional capacity for disposal of coal combustion residues generated by the station over the next 20 years. 
  • A global investment firm focused on energy infrastructure projects in the sale of its owner participant (OP) interest in a waste coal power plant project located in Pennsylvania to affiliates of the plant’s operator. Our team navigated through the historic documents related to the seller’s original acquisition of the OP interest (many of which were entered into decades ago) to understand the original transaction structure, and then design an exit strategy that mitigated risk to the seller.  
  • An integrated power company in successfully defending it and two of its subsidiaries in federal court litigation stemming from an accident at a coal-fired power plant that resulted in catastrophic injuries to a contractor’s employee. Throughout the depositions, we demonstrated our client’s lack of liability by highlighting the facts that it had a robust safety program, which included requirements specific to the accident, and that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent. After participating in court-ordered mediation, our team negotiated a settlement that did not require any contribution from our client. 

Nuclear Power

  • 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. 
  • A nuclear power plant operator in negotiating service agreements and advising on wastewater treatment, management issues, and contract disputes. 
  • A nuclear energy provider in advising on air issues, acquisitions, contract claims and construction contract disputes.

Natural Gas

  • 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 natural gas coalition in preparing an amicus brief related to a state agency’s denial of a company’s application for a water quality certification. The ruling impacted the ability of natural gas companies to supply natural gas from Pennsylvania to the Northeastern market. The court vacated the denial and remanded the matter back to the state agency. 
  • A group of natural gas power plant operators in challenging proposed regulations that would impose significant fees on fossil fuel-fired power plants in Pennsylvania.  
  • A leading exploration and production company in helping protect its interests in connection with natural gas well pad operations. We convinced the government regulator that it should deny drilling permits for another operator that was proposing operations on the same well pad. 
  • A petroleum company as one of the defendants in a climate change case in an appeal regarding whether the matter was removable to federal court.
  • An oil and gas operator in response to three criminal grand jury subpoenas associated with hydraulic fracturing activities in Pennsylvania, resulting in no criminal charges, while the grand jury returned charges against other operators in the industry.
  • A leading natural gas energy producer on the potential impact of proposed revisions to various state agencies’ permitting policies.
  • Multiple upstream operators regarding compliance with state and federal permitting requirements under the federal Clean Water Act and Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams Law, Dam Safety and Encroachments Act, and Oil and Gas Act.
  • An oil and gas operator in its internal review of oil and gas well plugging/ abandonment operations.
  • Investors and owners of natural gas-fired combined cycle combustion turbine electric power generating stations on issues including environmental permitting and third-party appeals, local land use approvals for construction, project financing, and potential liability associated with construction on a brownfield site.
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