Practice Areas & Industries: Duane Morris LLP


Renewable Energy and Sustainability Return to Practice Areas & Industries

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Practice/Industry Group Overview

Worldwide demand for energy continues to increase dramatically, even as traditional fuel sources are diminishing. Environmental and climate change concerns have also highlighted the need to develop low-carbon energy sources. The investment in and development of renewable energy resources, both for electric power production and for fuel consumption, affect every business sector throughout the global economy. In today's market, utility companies, renewable energy developers, commercial real estate developers, venture capitalists, tax investors, lenders, equipment manufacturers, installers, inventors and owners of intellectual property, and all energy consumers require knowledgeable counsel to help them negotiate the opportunities that are coupled with new laws and regulations.

To help meet these emerging challenges, Duane Morris attorneys bring broad and extensive experience in energy development, regulation, tax, corporate, project finance, intellectual property, environmental, construction and real estate matters, among others. We possess the business experience and creative legal thinking necessary to help clients achieve their "green" objectives. Duane Morris attorneys are well-versed in renewable energy and understand the current key market drivers - including financial incentives and stimulus bill funding - as well as the significant compliance obligations impacting renewable energy projects.

Our objective is to help our clients address the many issues raised by the renewable energy market, including:

  • Developing renewable energy projects, including solar, wind, water, biomass and biofuel power projects, as well as renewable fuel projects.
  • Licensing of renewable energy projects, including understanding regional electric power markets, market designs and state Renewable Portfolio Standards.
  • Securing environmental permits, including permits for water usage, as part of environmental compliance strategy.
  • Participating in public policy debates associated with climate change and water usage at both the federal and state levels.
  • Developing and bringing energy efficiency technologies and mechanisms to market.
  • Structuring investments to comply with corporate and tax objectives, including federal and state tax incentives and related financial programs.
  • Structuring various forms of financing for renewable energy projects, including project finance and private-public partnerships. Engineering, procurement and construction of renewable energy projects and infrastructure, including LEED-certified construction and government procurement and contracting.
  • Protecting and licensing intellectual property rights.

Commitment and Experience

Duane Morris attorneys are deeply involved in and committed to the renewable energy and conservation markets. Our firm is a member of American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) and other industry organizations, and participates actively in helping establish the policies and rules that will further stimulate the development of the renewable energy industry. Several of our lawyers are LEED accredited, and many are active researchers, writers and speakers on "green" issues. We are also leaders in our communities, spearheading business and residential community programs and initiatives to promote sustainable practices, such as the Greater Philadelphia Green Business Program.

A global law firm, Duane Morris has attorneys with the requisite experience to handle issues that may arise in the development of renewable energy projects throughout the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean and Southeast Asia.

In-Depth Industry Knowledge

At the core of our Renewable Energy and Sustainability practice are attorneys who have spent their entire careers working within the industry, including those who have worked as general counsel to energy development and services companies, and those who have held leadership positions with federal and local energy commissions before joining Duane Morris.

We are staffed with attorneys and government relations professionals experienced in representing developers, owners and operators of renewable energy projects, as well as more traditional fossil-fueled energy projects, throughout the United States and various international power markets. We have a long tradition of representing clients before various state and federal regulatory and administrative agencies and have contributed to the formation of policies that drive the market.

Our clients' success in the renewable energy market requires not only experience with the various legal issues that our clients may confront, but an interdisciplinary approach that provides our clients access to this experience in a manner that is collaborative with the client, seamless, and cost-efficient. Our knowledge and interdisciplinary approach allows Duane Morris to provide full-service legal support to clients in the renewable energy sector.

 Areas of Experience

Renewable Energy Development
Energy Regulation and Compliance
Energy Facility Construction and Recommissioning
Federal Building & Green Construction
Environmental Regulation
Water Rights and Regulation
Project Finance
Intellectual Property
Corporate Structure and Tax Planning
Real Estate
Private Equity/Venture Capital
Public Policy & Government Affairs


Representative Matters

Renewable Energy Development

  • Represented a French CAC 40 company in a structured finance transaction in which Veolia provided guarantees for a certain portion of a credit facility entered into by its indirect affiliate, Ridgeline Energy, LLC. Ridgeline, a U.S.-based wind-energy project developer, will use the credit facility to finance its Goshen Phase II wind-energy project in Idaho. Duane Morris provided a legal opinion regarding the guarantees for the banks that provided the credit facility.
  • Represented developer of a wind farm in western Pennsylvania. At the time construction was completed, it was the largest wind project east of the Mississippi River.
  • Negotiated interconnection agreements, electricity-sales contracts, utility-undergrounding agreements and load-transfer agreements.

Energy Regulation and Compliance

  • Represented a public agency before the California Public Utilities Commission regarding divestiture of PG&E's assets.
  • Represented San Francisco before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in landmark proceeding involving establishment of fishery flows and other environmental measures on the Tuolumne River in California.

Energy Facility Construction and Recommissioning

  • Represented owner/developer in claim involving failed biomass power plant in connection with PG&E's standard-offer contracts and plant development work in Southern California.
  • Represented project developer in connection with wind-power projects in Australia.

Environmental Regulation

  • Defense and negotiation of non-admission settlement of alleged Title V permit violations relating to minimum-temperature and monitoring requirements.
  • Defended electric-generating facility in probation revocation proceeding that resulted from alleged Clean Air Act opacity excursions. Assisted in the design of a monitoring and compliance program and negotiated the terms for terminating probation.
  • Lead counsel to energy company in resolving parallel criminal proceeding in the aftermath of the release of 275,000 gallons of highly acidic wastewater into a wetlands area. Following grand jury testimony, our internal investigation and interviews by the U.S. Department of Justice, Environmental Protection Agency and FBI, the company pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor, and charges were not levied against any of the individual defendants.

Water Rights and Regulation

  • Negotiated legislation to amend water-transfer provisions in the California Water Code.
  • Defended a water utility in a suit brought by a construction company contracted to build a large fossil-fuel power generating station in Puerto Rico.
  • Represented large urban water agency regarding renewals of contracts with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, including contract negotiation, environmental compliance and litigation.
  • Represented two cement plants accused of making illegal discharges into the San Francisco Bay in violation of the Clean Water Act.
  • Represented major public agency through each of the necessary steps in building a water-desalination project.
  • Ongoing representation of county water district in water-supply-contract negotiations with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.



Services Available

Articles Authored by Lawyers at this office:

Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load Implementation
Seth V.D.H. Cooley, August 02, 2016
In a recent edition of our Energy, Environment and Resources Update, we discussed the then-pending petition for writ of certiorari from a decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upholding the Chesapeake Bay TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load). On February 29, 2016, the U.S. Supreme...

Energy Sources—Following the Money
Seth V.D.H. Cooley, August 02, 2016
On April 14, 2016, the United States Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved an energy and water funding bill that would appropriate $2 billion for the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy programs (an amount equal to fiscal year 2016...

FERC to Hold Technical Conference on Generator Interconnection Issues
Frederick J. Heinle,Dennis J. Hough, August 02, 2016
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has scheduled a technical conference for May 13, 2016, to address potential revisions to its generator interconnection procedures and pro forma generator interconnection agreement. The technical conference presents the first opportunity for a...

New York PSC Limits ESCO Marketing to Residential and Small Commercial Customers
Phyllis J. Kessler, August 02, 2016
On February 23, 2016, the New York Public Service Commission (“Commission”) issued an order limiting how electric and gas marketers (known in New York as “energy service companies” or “ESCOs”) can market competitive energy supply to residential and small...

U.S. Supreme Court Invalidates Maryland Power Generation Incentive Program on Preemption Grounds
Phyllis J. Kessler, August 02, 2016
On April 19, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Hughes v. Talen Energy Marketing, LLC. In its opinion, authored by Justice Ginsburg, the Court rejected the attempt by the State of Maryland to incentivize the construction of new power plants through the use of a contract for differences. A...

What Does U.S. Supreme Court Decision Upholding FERC's Authority over Demand Response Mean for the Future of FERC's Jurisdiction?
, August 02, 2016
On January 25, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the authority of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission) to regulate demand response in the case Federal Energy Regulatory Commission v. Electric Power Supply Association et al. (“EPSA”).[1] This opinion is...

FERC Declines to Resolve PURPA Dispute
Frederick J. Heinle, July 30, 2016
On January 8, 2016, FERC declined to initiate an enforcement action under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) in a matter involving a solar developer’s access to Connecticut’s renewable energy procurement program. Allco Renewable Energy Limited (Allco) argued that...

Pennsylvania Announces Planned New Methane Rules
Seth V.D.H. Cooley, July 30, 2016
On January 19, 2016, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced a “nation-leading strategy” to reduce emissions of methane associated with natural gas production, processing and transmission. Citing the fact that Pennsylvania is the second-largest producer of natural gas in the nation...

FERC Grants Complaints Based on Affiliate Abuse
Dennis J. Hough, July 28, 2016
In a pair of almost-identical complaints brought by a coalition of wholesale power generators led by the Electric Power Supply Association (Complainants), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (Commission) affiliate abuse rules were recently put to the test. Electric Power Supply...

Long-Term Solar Outlook Remains Strong in Spite of SunEdison, Abengoa Troubles
Frederick J. Heinle, July 23, 2016
The recent financial difficulties for solar developers SunEdison and Abengoa have made headlines and raised questions of whether they foreshadow tough times for the industry as a whole. SunEdison, which has not been profitable in more than five years, faces, in the words of its yield co, a...

New BLM Guidelines Establish Mitigation Fees for Solar Projects on Public Lands in Southwestern United States
Phyllis J. Kessler, July 23, 2016
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) expanded its roadmap for development of solar projects on government land by releasing new guidelines on March 2, 2016. The new guidelines expand the federal government¿s approach to its Western Solar Plan, which commenced in 2012.

PHMSA Seeks Expansion of Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Regulations
Dennis J. Hough, July 23, 2016
On March 17, 2016, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (“PHMSA”) announced proposed new safety regulations concerning onshore natural gas transmission and gathering pipelines. These proposed regulations would expand and enhance the reach of PHMSA’s pipeline...

FERC—National Labs Discuss Grid Modernization
Frederick J. Heinle, July 22, 2016
At its April 21, 2016 meeting, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) invited representatives from the Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories and Lawrence...

NYC Council Approves Plastic Bag Fee
Seth V.D.H. Cooley, July 22, 2016
Joining the ranks of a growing number of cities and communities across the United States and around the globe, New York City will soon move to limit the use of plastic bags in the retail and grocery sectors. On May 5, 2016, a plastic bag fee bill (Intro. No. 209-A, 2014) was passed by City Council,...

New York Public Service Commission Energy Market Restructuring May Be Framework for Changes Nationwide
, July 22, 2016
The New York Public Service Commission ("PSC") issued a groundbreaking order on May 19, 2016, under its Reforming the Energy Vision ("REV") initiative. The REV’s overarching goal is to empower customers to determine their energy future by increasing the level of...

California Public Utilities Commission to Be Restructured
Thomas M. Berliner, July 21, 2016
Through a deal entered into between the California legislature and Governor Jerry Brown, the embattled California Public Utilities Commission ("PUC") will be restructured and reformed. Following a series of crises, including a 2010 major gas pipeline explosion that killed several people...

FERC Debates Future of PURPA
Frederick J. Heinle, July 21, 2016
At a June 29, 2016, conference, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ("FERC") considered whether changes should be made to the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 ("PURPA"). PURPA aimed to increase generation capacity and change the generation mix by ending the...

What Does Trend Towards Residential Demand Charges Mean for Overall Rate Design?
Phyllis J. Kessler, July 21, 2016
In several states, utilities have been moving toward incorporating demand charges into residential rates. In June, Arizona Public Service Company filed a rate case, which included a proposal for three alternative demand charge rates for residential customers, while proposing to reduce volumetric...