Utility & Energy

Featured Publication:

PA Commonwealth Court Reverses PUC, Upholds Some Municipal Permitting Fees

The Commonwealth Court of PA reversed the PUC's declaratory order, arguing permitting fees were permissible because they do not “constitute utility regulation.”

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Cozen O’Connor’s Utility & Energy Practice guides clients through complex regulatory approvals by state public utility commissions and other federal and state regulatory agencies, and represents clients in utility- and energy-related transactions, litigation, enforcement actions, and regulatory proceedings. We represent public utilities (water/wastewater, natural gas, electric, transportation, and telecommunication), offshore wind developers, infrastructure investment funds, power producers, renewable and clean energy companies, competitive retail suppliers, municipalities and municipal authorities, large institutional and manufacturing consumers, technology companies, and corporate clients. Cozen O’Connor attorneys have decades of relevant legal experience, both in private practice and as state regulatory agency counsel.

Utility

State-Regulated Public Utilities

Cozen O’Connor has a premier state-based utility regulatory practice. Led by former counsel to the chair of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, our attorneys have the requisite knowledge and relationships to help utility clients achieve success. Our clients include water and wastewater, electric, natural gas, steam and chilled water, transportation, and telecommunications service providers. We represent clients before state public utility commissions (primarily in the Mid-Atlantic region) in a range of matters: base rate cases, mergers and acquisitions, certificate of public convenience, fair market valuation, gas and steam cost, distribution system improvement charge, rate clause filings, electric and natural gas supplier licensing, formal complaints and investigations, securities registration, management audits, affiliated interest agreement, public utility and municipality agreement, energy efficiency and conservation, land use and zoning preemption, transmission line and other utility infrastructure siting, rail-highway crossing, utility financing and asset sale/transfer authorizations, rulemaking, policy-making, and tariff proceedings. We also practice before appellate courts in appeals from public utility commission decisions and related issues.

Water, Wastewater & Stormwater

The water, wastewater, and stormwater utility sectors, including investor-owned utilities as well as municipal and authority-owned systems, face unique regulatory and commercial challenges that require counsel with a deep understanding of the law, infrastructure, and operations. Cozen O’Connor’s national water, wastewater, and stormwater practice, which includes the former general counsel of water utilities located in six states and of a national water and wastewater management services company, handles clients’ most critical transactions and litigation. We guide the sale and long-term lease of water,  wastewater, and stormwater systems; negotiate management services contracts; site and obtain permits and other approvals for controversial facilities; assist with the development of filtration plants, pump stations, and water towers; negotiate power purchase agreements; provide guidance on public/private partnerships; handle litigation involving water allocation permits; guide providers on lead and PFAS contamination issues; and resolve water, wastewater, and stormwater-related enforcement actions and litigation.

Transportation

Cozen O’Connor represents common carriers of passengers and property (such as transportation network, household goods moving, shipping, trucking, taxi cab, and autonomous vehicle companies), as well as transportation logistics companies, in state and federal regulatory matters and disputes. We assist clients with market entry, base rate requests, and certificate of public convenience applications; help navigate complex compliance and enforcement issues; and provide commercial contract review and drafting services. 

Customer Complaint Defense

Cozen O’Connor recognizes that a significant challenge for state-regulated public utilities is the effective management of customer complaint cases. The disputes often involve a small dollar amount or a minor service issue; yet, discovery and a full-blown evidentiary hearing is required by the state public utility commission. Using alternative fee arrangements and junior attorneys/staff supervised by experienced utility lawyers, our firm is able to manage customer complaint cases in an efficient and economical manner while keeping a keen-eyed view of broader policy issues that may be implicated by any particular case.

Energy

Combined Heat & Power

Cozen O’Connor is an industry leader in combined heat and power (CHP) projects, an increasingly viable option for large energy users to reduce costs, become energy resilient, and generate revenue. The firm has advised and guided CHP projects for universities, health systems, data centers, industrial firms, and hotel/resort/casino complexes. We handle every phase of project development, including due diligence, energy sales and design, build, operating agreements; financeable land leases; regulatory advice; land use and environmental permitting; tax exempt and taxable finance; public/private partnership transactions; land and easement acquisition; incentive programs; and tax planning. Cozen O’Connor also has strong relationships with developers and consultants in the field, enabling the firm to deliver turnkey projects to its clients.

Renewable and Clean Energy

Our attorneys have deep experience with solar, wind energy, hydro-electric, and biofuels, and we regularly represent utility companies, renewable and clean energy developers, manufacturers, investors, lenders, and energy consumers. Cozen O’Connor assists renewable and clean energy projects from start to finish, managing negotiation of sophisticated commercial contracts, pursuit of federal and state government incentives, regulatory filings and compliance, agency outreach, and all aspects of renewable and clean energy project financing, tax strategy, real estate, land use, and zoning.

Oil & Gas

The firm provides corporate, regulatory, and litigation services to upstream, midstream, and downstream oil and gas clients. We help exploration and production (E&P) companies, oil field service companies, vendors, suppliers, gathering and pipeline companies, refineries, and investors complete transactions, pursue land and access rights, negotiate operational agreements, file comments to rulemakings, and achieve regulatory compliance. Our team also represents clients in diverse litigation and enforcement actions before state and federal courts and administrative agencies. We have notable experience working with companies developing the Marcellus and Utica shales.

Experience

Publications

PA Commonwealth Court Reverses PUC, Upholds Some Municipal Permitting Fees

May 04, 2022

The Commonwealth Court of PA reversed the PUC's declaratory order, arguing permitting fees were permissible because they do not “constitute utility regulation.”

Selling Chester Water Authority Assets: The Latest on Litigation Efforts by the City of Chester [The Water News Source]

December 31, 2021

Michael Klein provides insight into the possible sale of Chester Water Authority (CWA) by the City of Chester that resulted in a September 2021 decision issued by the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court and followed by CWA’s appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in The Water News Source.

What’s at Stake When the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Takes on Smart Meters? Issues and Impacts [Alert]

November 18, 2021

Jonathan Nase discusses three consolidated cases that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for in December that may impact utilities in the commonwealth.

Buyer and Seller Beware: Does Your Purchase/Sale of a Business Include a Public Utility? [Alert]

October 18, 2021

Jonathan P. Nase discusses why both the buyer and the seller must do their due diligence identifying any permits, licenses, or certificates that must be transferred to the buyer (or otherwise obtained by the buyer) at or before closing.

Continuing the “Return to Normalcy” at the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission [Alert]

July 19, 2021

David P. Zambito and Jonathan P. Nase discuss the PUC's various orders gradually ending the emergency measures it took in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Further Defines Qualifying Alternative Energy Sources [Alert]

May 13, 2021

Jonathan Nase discusses the PUC's Act 40 and Act 114 implementation orders regarding alternative energy sources.

Developments in Offshore Wind: Part One [White Paper]

March 17, 2021

Michael Connolly, Amorie Hummel, William Lesser, Heidi Schwartz, Josh Stein, and James Van Orden discuss New Jersey and New York's offshore wind energy policies and what the Biden administration has already done to advance offshore wind energy development in federal waters.

Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Enters a New Phase in Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic [Alert]

March 15, 2021

David P. Zambito and Jonathan P. Nase discuss the additional steps toward returning to pre-COVID-19 pandemic procedures for collecting amounts due for public utility service in Pennsylvania.

Marijuana Legalization Push May Impact PA Utilities’ Zero Tolerance Policies [Alert]

February 26, 2021

David P. Zambito and Vincent Candiello discuss how Pennsylvania’s regulated public utilities would be impacted by the legalization of marijuana and if they are not permitted to continue their zero-tolerance drug use policies for employees involved in the operation of critical infrastructure.

Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Rules Two Municipal Permitting Fees Are Preempted by State Law [Alert]

February 23, 2021

Jonathan Nase discusses the PUC decisions in response to Armstrong Telecommunications Inc. Petition for Declaratory Order.

Phase 2 of the Moratorium on Utility Shut-offs in Pennsylvania Extended [Alert]

February 22, 2021

Jonathan Nase discusses the emergency order generally prohibiting the termination of public utility service by electric, natural gas, water, wastewater, telecommunications, and steam utilities, and encouraging the impacted utilities to reconnect service to customers previously terminated, to the extent it could be done safely.

Regulating Troubled or Failing Monopolies: Ordering One Public Utility to Acquire Another [Alert]

February 19, 2021

Jonathan Nase discusses a provision in the Pennsylvania code that gives the PUC authority to order a proximate capable public utility to acquire a small water or sewer utility that is struggling to remain viable.

COVID-19 and the Critical Infrastructure Worker

February 19, 2021

Michael Klein provides an update on an emergency order issued by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC).

What is This? The Importance of Procedure in Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Proceedings [Alert]

February 04, 2021

Jonathan Nase discusses the differences between the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s procedural rules, the General Rules of Administrative Practice and Procedure, and the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure.

New Jersey’s First in the Nation State Environmental Justice Law [Alert]

October 22, 2020

Amorie Hummel, Evan Preminger, Michael Connolly, and Greg Eisenstark discuss the New Jersey law that is the first in the nation to require mandatory permit denials under state law for new facilities and to expressly allow the imposition of conditions on renewal and expansion permits for existing facilities based on environmental justice concerns alone.

Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Enters Phase 2 of the Moratorium on Utility Shut-Offs [Alert]

October 19, 2020

David P. Zambito and Jonathan P. Nase discuss Chairman Gladys Brown Dutrieuille's modifications to the emergency order.

NJBPU Approves Year 2 Application Process for Community Solar Energy Pilot Program [Alert]

October 13, 2020

Michael Connolly and Greg Eisenstark discuss the NJBPU's Community Solar Program Year 2 application process. Applications for Year 2 community solar projects are due by February 5, 2021.

Voluntary Moratorium on New Jersey Utility Shut-offs Extended to October 15, 2020 [Alert]

September 01, 2020

Gregory Eisenstark and Michael J. Connolly discuss the voluntary moratorium on utility shut-offs for non-payment of bills that Gov. Murphy extended to October 15, 2020. The moratorium applies to electric, gas, water, and wastewater utilities regulated by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.

The Saga Continues: Pennsylvania PUC Delays Action on Terminating the Moratorium on Utility Shut-offs [Alert]

August 28, 2020

David P. Zambito and Jonathan P. Nase discuss the PUC's postponement of its motion addressing termination of the moratorium so the commission would have more time to evaluate comments that had been filed with the PUC.

The DAS Networks Fault Line: A Coming Earthquake in Pennsylvania Administrative Law? [Alert]

August 04, 2020

Jonathan P. Nase discusses the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's decision in Crown Castle NG East LLC and Pennsylvania-CLE LLC v. Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

Court Rules on City of Chester’s Authority over CWA Assets [The Water News Source]

July 20, 2020

Michael Klein discusses a long-awaited decision by the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, Pa., involving the City of Chester’s request that the court declares that the city is authorized by law to convey the water system assets of the Chester Water Authority (CWA) to the city for its own use.

Pennsylvania PUC Remains Deadlocked over Terminating the Moratorium on Utility Shut-offs [Alert]

July 20, 2020

David P. Zambito and Jonathan P. Nase discuss the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission vote on party lines to maintain its moratorium on utility terminations while Governor Tom Wolf’s Proclamation of Disaster Emergency on COVID-19 remains in effect.

In Party-Line Vote, the Pennsylvania PUC Continues the Moratorium on Utility Terminations [Alert]

June 22, 2020

David P. Zambito and Jonathan P. Nase discuss the history and the next steps for Pennsylvania's moratorium on utility terminations.

Several Pennsylvania PUC Regulations Concerning Net Metering Ruled Invalid and Unenforceable [Alert]

May 19, 2020

Jonathan Nase discusses the Commonwealth Court's decision in David N. Hommrich v. Comm., Pa. Pub. Util. Comm’n.

New York Extends COVID-19 Restrictions on Utility Activities [Alert]

April 23, 2020

William Lesser discusses how the extension of Gov. Cuomo's New York State on PAUSE order impacts the utility industry.

N.J. EO-127 Extends Contested Case, Rule Deadlines — May Impact Utilities, Other Regulated Entities [Alert]

April 20, 2020

Greg Eisenstark and Michael Connolly discuss New Jersey's executive order extending deadlines until after the public health emergency.

Pennsylvania April 15 COVID-19 Health Measures Order for Certain Businesses, Including Utilities [Alert]

April 17, 2020

Michael Klein discussed Pennsylvania's new order providing guidance for essential businesses, including utilities, to protect employees and the public.

Update on N.J. and Pa. Restrictions on Construction Activities — Utility and Other Projects [Alert]

April 13, 2020

Michael Klein and Michael Connolly provide updates to restrictions Pennsylvania and New Jersey have issued on the energy industry.

COVID-19 Emergency Mandates on Utility Construction Activities and Supplies

April 07, 2020

Dave Zambito, Michael Klein, Michael Connolly, and Jonathan Nase explain what utility companies need to know about their construction projects in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

COVID-19 and the Utility, Energy, Telecommunications & Transportation Sectors: What [Alert]

March 24, 2020

David Zambito, Michael Klein, Michael Connolly, Gregory Eisenstark, Ira Megdal, and Jonathan Nase discuss the executive orders in New Jersey and Pennsylvania impacting the utility industry.

The Latest on the Regulation of PFAS Substances, and the Jurisdiction of the PA Public Utility Commission [The Water News Source]

February 07, 2020

Michael Klein authored an article in the Pennsylvania American Water Works Association’s quarterly magazine, The Water News Source, on regulations related to PFAS contamination.

Receivers of Public Utilities in Pennsylvania: The Need for Legislation or Regulations [Alert]

January 29, 2020

Jonathan P. Nase, James R. Potts and Eric L. Scherling discuss how to address unresolved issues when the PUC orders public utilities to serve as receivers for troubled small utilities.

When local government and the PUC Intersect: Understanding the Impact of the Commission’s Regulatory Authority [PA Township News]

June 11, 2019

Jonathan Nase co-authored an article explaining the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s (PUC) powers, rules, and regulations that may apply to municipalities.

PFAS and Public Water Supply in Pennsylvania: Challenges & Opportunities [Alert]

May 20, 2019

Peter Fontaine, Michael Klein, and Marcia Mulkey discuss the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's tracking approximately 19 sites with known contamination with PFOA and PFOS and its PFAS sampling plan, targeting 300 public water supplies with elevated potential for contamination and testing for six PFAS compounds

Baltimore Ballot Question: A Wave or a Ripple? [The Authority]

April 18, 2019

Michael Klein authored an article on a ballot question in Baltimore that would determine if the city’s water and sewer systems could be sold, leased, or privatized.

Public Utility Commission Rate Making: Municipal Solicitors can Help to Navigate the Complex Process [The Township Solicitor]

April 12, 2019

Jonathan Nase discusses why it is important for municipal solicitors to understand the Public Utility Commission (PUC) rate making process.

The Criminalization of Violations of the PA Safe Drinking Water Act [The Water News Source]

March 29, 2019

Michael Klein discusses the civil and criminal charges water companies could face if found in violation of the Pennsylvania Safe Drinking Water Act.

Democrat-Controlled PA PUC Touts Trump Tax Savings to Ratepayers, Denies Infrastructure Reinvestment [Utility, Environmental & Energy Alert]

May 18, 2018

David P. Zambito and Jonathan Nase discuss the choice to order 17 Pennsylvania utilities to return more than $320 million to ratepayers.

Duquesne Light Proposes 220 Percent Rate Increase for Backup Service Days Before PA PUC Acts to Promote CHP [Utility, Environmental & Energy Alert]

April 09, 2018

David Zambito and Jonathan Nase discuss Duquesne’s proposed rate increase, which is scheduled to take effect May 29, 2018, and how the PUC proceedings will be one of many cases in which the commission may attempt to implement the new statement of policy to promote CHP.

Pa. PUC Converts Commission-Approved Rates into Temporary Rates in Wake of Tax Act [Utility, Environmental & Energy Alert]

March 19, 2018

Jonathan Nase discusses the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission' temporary rates order that converted commission-approved rates of most large Pennsylvania public utilities into “temporary rates” for a period of six months in response to the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Federal Tax Reform: Major Changes Impacting Public Utilities [Utility, Environmental & Energy Alert]

January 10, 2018

David Zambito, Ira Megdal, Rich Silpe, and Rory Moore discuss the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and the changes to the taxation of business enterprises that have significant implications for public utilities.

PA PUC Requests Input on Proposal Regarding Fully Projected Future Test Years in Rate Cases [Utility, Environmental & Energy Alert]

January 03, 2018

Jonathan Nase and David Zambito discuss proposed changes to 52 Pa. Code § 53.53, including the addition of Exhibit E.

Sex and Water Do Not Mix [PAAWWA]

January 01, 2018

Michael Klein, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Utility, Environmental & Energy Practice Group, discusses the rise of sexual harassment awareness in every sector of society, including the water industry, in Pennsylvania American Water Works Association's magazine, The Water News Source.

PA Legislation Transfers “One Call” Enforcement Responsibilities to PUC [Utility, Environment & Energy Alert]

November 06, 2017

Jonathan P. Nase and George A. Bibikos discuss the transfer of authority from Labor and Industry to the PUC and the significant penalties authorized by the act, as well as steps facility owners or excavators that have obligations under the act should take to understand the amendments.

PA PUC Approves PA-American Water’s Fair Market Value Acquisition of McKeesport Wastewater System [Utility, Environmental & Energy Alert]

October 30, 2017

David P. Zambito and Jonathan P. Nase discuss Pennsylvania-American Water Company’s acquisition of the wastewater system owned by the Municipal Authority of the City of McKeesport.

Events & Seminars

Past Events

Water & Wastewater

October 19, 2021 - Webinar

Broadband in Pennsylvania

October 19, 2021 - Webinar

Public Utility Bench Bar Conference 2020

May 28, 2020 - Harrisburg, PA

2019 Public Utility Law Conference

May 30, 2019 - Harrisburg, PA

2019 PA AWWA’s Annual Conference

April 17, 2019 - Hershey, PA

2018 American Water Summit

October 25, 2018 - Philadelphia, PA

2018 WWOAP Conference

September 24, 2018 - Boalsburg, PA

Pennsylvania AWWA Annual Conference

May 10, 2018 - Pocono Manor, PA

In The News

How Governors Races May Change Energy, From EVs To Renewables

February 08, 2022

David Zambito was quoted in an article published in Environment and Energy News (E&E News) that discusses the fate of energy policies based on the potential outcomes of the gubernatorial elections in November 2022. The article looks at the upcoming races of four key states that can transform the energy sector: Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, and Florida.

82 Cozen O’Connor Lawyers, 19 Practices Earn Top Recognition in Chambers USA 2021 Guide

May 26, 2021

Chambers USA, the leading annual guide to the top lawyers and law firms in the United States, has ranked 82 Cozen O’Connor lawyers as leaders in their respective fields in the guide’s 2021 edition; of those, 15 lawyers have been recognized nationally.

Michael Klein Receives Pennsylvania’s Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network’s Highest Honor

September 01, 2020

Harrisburg, Pa., September 1, 2020 – Michael D. Klein, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Utility & Energy Practice, has been named the 2020 recipient of the Gold Star Award by the Board of Directors of Pennsylvania’s Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (PAWARN).

Cozen O’Connor Recognized As a Best Law Firm in 24 Practice Areas Nationwide, 106 Practice Areas Regionally

November 05, 2019

The U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations and peer review from leading attorneys in their field.

Cozen O’Connor Announces Hiring Two Nationally Renowned Energy Lawyers and Continues Expansion of its U.S. Footprint, Opening a Newark, N.J. Office

April 01, 2019

Gregory Eisenstark and Michael J. Connolly join Cozen O’Connor and will lead the Newark office

Baltimore Voters Test Resistance to Privatization

November 02, 2018

Michael Klein, a member of the firm’s Utility, Environmental & Energy Practice, is quoted in Bloomberg on a ballot measure that, if approved, would prevent the city of Baltimore from selling its government-owned water and sewer system.

Fifty-four Cozen O’Connor Attorneys Named 2018 Pennsylvania Super Lawyers and Rising Stars

June 12, 2018

Super Lawyers has named 54 Cozen O'Connor attorneys to its 2018 Pennsylvania Super Lawyers and Rising Stars lists.

Rate Cuts Spare Columbia Water

June 01, 2018

David Zambito is quoted in the Central Penn Business Journal on the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s decision to exclude Columbia Water Co. customers from utility rate cuts.

Cozen O’Connor Elects 19 Associates to Membership

April 09, 2018

Cozen O’Connor has elected 19 associates to membership in the firm. The management committee appointed this qualified group of attorneys to membership based on demonstrated professionalism, leadership, dedication, and loyalty to Cozen O’Connor.

2018 U.S. News & World Report – Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms" Ranks Cozen O’Connor

February 01, 2018

In the 2018 U.S. News - Best Lawyers® "Best Law Firms, Cozen O’Connor is ranked nationally in 17 practice areas and regionally in 64 practice areas.

Pa. Regulators Sizing up Tax-Cut Impact on Utility Rates

January 11, 2018

David Zambito, co-chair of Cozen O’Connor’s Utility, Environmental & Energy Practice Group, discusses the impact that federal tax reform may have on utility rates in the Central Penn Business Journal.

Contacts

David P. Zambito

Chair, Utility & Energy

dzambito@cozen.com

(717) 703-5892

People

Awards

82 Cozen O’Connor Lawyers, 19 Practices Earn Top Recognition in Chambers USA 2021 Guide

May 26, 2021

Chambers USA, the leading annual guide to the top lawyers and law firms in the United States, has ranked 82 Cozen O’Connor lawyers as leaders in their respective fields in the guide’s 2021 edition; of those, 15 lawyers have been recognized nationally.

Michael Klein Receives Pennsylvania’s Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network’s Highest Honor

September 01, 2020

Harrisburg, Pa., September 1, 2020 – Michael D. Klein, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Utility & Energy Practice, has been named the 2020 recipient of the Gold Star Award by the Board of Directors of Pennsylvania’s Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (PAWARN).

Cozen O’Connor Recognized As a Best Law Firm in 24 Practice Areas Nationwide, 106 Practice Areas Regionally

November 05, 2019

The U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations and peer review from leading attorneys in their field.

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