Practice/Industry Group Overview
We are on the verge of a nuclear energy renaissance. While specific predictions may differ, a few facts are indisputable. Worldwide demand for energy continues to increase. Shifting fuel prices most greatly impact the production of energy from more traditional sources and keep the planners awake at night. Governments around the world continue to debate acceptable levels of carbon emissions from these energy sources. Nuclear reactors already provide a large percentage of the world's electricity, but the vast majority of commercial nuclear reactors currently in operation are more than 15 years old.
There is little question that the level of activity, scrutiny and debate regarding nuclear power is on the rise. Whether in the planning stages of a new nuclear plant or overseeing the operations of an existing facility, having informed, savvy and experienced legal counsel is vital.
Duane Morris lawyers' experience in the nuclear arena ranges from the boardroom to the control room, from the nuclear island to the turbine floor. Our lawyers advise clients on all aspects of the legal and business issues surrounding the siting, financing, construction and operation of electric generation facilities, the regulation of distribution, sale and consumption, and issues concerning nuclear waste. Our experience includes work for producers, regulatory agencies, independent system operators and publicly owned utility companies. We represent electric utilities and their operating subsidiaries in regulatory proceedings before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Federal Courts of Appeals.
Our firm has a strong technological foundation, boasting dozens of attorneys with engineering degrees, including experienced nuclear engineers, and others who have worked directly in nuclear construction and in operating nuclear plants in a variety of technical, supervisory and managerial roles.
Duane Morris lawyers have been involved in legal issues regarding the construction and operation of many nuclear facilities, including:
- Diablo Canyon
- Hope Creek
- Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory
- Midland Nuclear Power Plant
- Modifications and Additions Reactor Facility
- Nine Mile II
- Peach Bottom
- Salem I & II
In addition to experience in plants and with utilities, Duane Morris attorneys have experience gained from serving as members of governmental regulatory agencies. One of the leaders of our Energy Practice Group helped establish the FERC Office of Enforcement and was its first director. Others among our attorneys have also served in various capacities at FERC. Furthermore, Duane Morris was integrally involved in the creation of the first Regional Transmission Organization approved by FERC, and has served as its counsel in a multitude of issues before FERC and the appellate courts. We also assist federal and state regulators and agencies in the formation and implementation of regulations and policymaking.
As a global law firm, Duane Morris gives clients in the nuclear energy industry access to attorneys with experience in a wide variety of legal disciplines, including:
Duane Morris has a national Construction Group with extensive nuclear and fossil power experience. We have a strong local and national presence, with construction lawyers located in many of our offices around the United States. Accompanying our extensive geographic coverage, we provide a full range of legal services, including contracting with public and private entities, bid protests and award disputes, contract negotiating and drafting, creation of and advising with respect to public/private partnerships, complex contract claims and surety litigation, claims preparation and negotiation, contract defaults and terminations, alternative dispute resolution, dispute resolution boards, partnering, environmental risk management, surety bond and insurance issues, contractor licensing matters, and property damage claims. We have lawyers experienced with issues surrounding Construction and Operating Licenses (COL) and Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contracts. Our attorneys have handled all of the issues that traditionally arise, whether they involve payment disputes, insurance coverage, allegations of defective design or construction, changed or unforeseen conditions, delays, disruptions, loss of productivity or similar claims.
Our lawyers have represented parties in connection with the financing of a variety of public power projects. Our experience includes some of the largest municipal power transactions in the United States as well as billion-dollar financings of energy facilities around the world. We have also provided tax advice and handled bond issues for utilities in connection with capital-raising initiatives.
Duane Morris' employment lawyers offer practical counseling designed to prevent potentially disruptive labor and employment disputes and have experience with the special labor issues involving construction projects, and specifically with project agreements for nuclear projects. We handle a wide variety of employment-related litigation and the full range of management labor relations matters. Our lawyers aggressively promote client interests before state and federal courts and in mediation and arbitration proceedings as well as before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Labor, the federal Wage and Hour Division, the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission and all other state and federal agencies. On the labor relations side, our lawyers regularly defend employers against unfair labor practice charges filed with the National Labor Relations Board and represent clients in the collective bargaining process as well as in labor arbitration proceedings. We also have represented employers in defense of numerous whistleblower cases in the nuclear arena.
Our Intellectual Property team includes highly trained attorneys with multiple technical degrees and jury trial experience as well as former patent examiners and patent agents, former corporate patent counsel and professors of IP law. Our lawyers have experience with patent filings involving a wide variety of complex technologies, including reactor design and inventions related to both boiling water and pressurized water reactors. In addition to counsel in the U.S., we also coordinate with our international networks of law firms to secure and maintain patent protection throughout the world. When our IP attorneys enter a courtroom, they are adept at explaining complex technical issues in a straightforward manner and presenting our client's story to the judge and jurors in the most compelling way possible.
In addition, Duane Morris has national practice groups that can be called upon to represent clients with their needs regarding corporate, securities, and mergers and acquisitions issues, litigation and arbitration, real estate, environmental issues, international trade, tax, and business reorganization and financial restructuring.