A rising demand for energy has coincided with decreasing resources, increasing prices, and environmental concerns. Businesses in the energy sector are presented with a mix of challenging legal, business and regulatory issues as well as exciting new energy opportunities. Whether they are facing challenges or opportunities, the attorneys in Benesch’s Energy Practice Group provide knowledgeable legal counsel to clients in all phases of the energy sector in the Midwest and nationally.
The Energy Practice Group consists of an integrated, cross-functional team of litigation, corporate, public and private finance, public utility and regulatory, environmental, real estate, public law, intellectual property and construction attorneys, all of whom are experienced in handling energy and environmental related matters before various federal and state courts and administrative agencies.
Representative clients include public utilities, natural gas transmission, distribution and storage pipeline companies, midstream companies, exploration and drilling companies, energy generation facilities, power marketers, energy equipment manufacturers, alternative energy suppliers, industrial companies, public agencies and private equity firms and development firms.
While our Energy Practice Group exercises preventive counseling to help clients avoid litigation, it is well-equipped to handle litigation matters when necessary. We have decades of individual and collective experience in litigating matters for public utilities, midstream, exploration and production companies, natural gas transmission, distribution and storage pipeline companies, energy equipment manufacturers and coal companies, among others. In addition, attorneys in our Energy Practice Group provide effective legal counsel in disputes involving contracts and other agreements, facilities design and construction, service agreements, insurance coverage, labor and employment matters, environmental matters and safety and health concerns.
State and federal agencies have propounded extensive bodies of law governing the construction, operation, maintenance and repair of virtually every form of energy related infrastructure. In addition, states have renewed their attention on the public utility sector, such as the State of Ohio’s recent re-regulation of the electric utility industry. As these policies continue to develop, our Energy Practice Group provides regulatory compliance assistance and strategic advice. We assist clients in related matters including integrated resource planning, siting requirements, environmental permits and licensing, facility construction, tariff issues and interconnection and supply agreements.
Oftentimes, creative solutions must be formed to resolve complex environmental issues. Our Energy Practice Group is well-versed in handling environmental matters, including permitting and licensing, general environmental compliance and assisting industrial and commercial companies in resolving environmental issues. The compliance counseling which our attorneys provide is backed by a thorough knowledge of existing environmental laws, regulations, and marketplace responses to perceived environmental problems, particularly those not yet regulated.
A sophisticated level of understanding is required to overcome the ever-increasing complexity of real estate transactions, eminent domain, public and private right of way matters, and a growing number of regulatory requirements. Our Energy Practice Group attorneys regularly represent developers, utilities, midstream companies, natural gas transmission, distribution and storage companies and others parties, including buyers, sellers and contractors, in connection with all aspects of the development and finance of energy infrastructure projects. We also have significant experience in oil and gas leasing, wind farm leasing, tax considerations, and zoning and local government approvals.
As nationally-recognized "red book" bond counsel, our public finance attorneys meet our public and private sector clients' capital needs through creative public finance strategies. Given the increased tax and securities regulatory scrutiny of tax-exempt financings, participants in the tax-exempt bond market for public entities must have experienced counsel representing their interests in the planning and execution of tax-exempt transactions. Our attorneys serve in this capacity by providing counsel across a full range of critical issues, anticipating obstacles and finding solutions. We are also aware that strategic decision-making skills and community support are necessary for a project to succeed.
Our public finance attorneys serve as bond counsel, underwriter's counsel, issuer's counsel, borrower's counsel, credit enhancer's counsel and derivatives counsel for both private and public sector clients. In addition, we assist clients in debt structurings with fixed and variable rate securities, conduit financings, public offerings and private placements. We are knowledgeable about various economic development programs, including tax increment financings (TIFs), new community authorities, joint economic development districts and zones (JEDDs and JEDZs), community reinvestment areas (CRAs), enterprise zones, and a variety of other incentive programs. We are able to provide energy-related clients with counsel on matters related to Ohio ethics laws, annexation, intergovernmental agreements, state and federal loans and grants, and constitutional and public law issues.
Strategic and Financial Acquisitions
The firm is experienced in representing both strategic and private equity investors in the renewable, solid waste and alternative energy industry. With this background, Benesch is uniquely situated to represent business entities in their financing activities, both public and private, as well as merger and acquisition transactions and other legal needs in this dynamic industry. In addition to our strong Ohio presence, a substantial amount of our business is outside of Ohio, mainly concentrated in the Midwest and the East Coast.
The oil and natural gas drilling boom presents investment opportunities for the pipelines and processing facilities to bring energy products to market. Energy companies that have invested billions of dollars in leasing mineral rights seek partnerships and joint ventures with companies that will help them meet market demands. And as more shale formations become available for drilling, private equity firms around the world are exploring investment opportunities.
Benesch’s private equity attorneys represent private equity firms including leverage buyout firms, mezzanine funds, venture capital funds and portfolio companies located both domestically and off shore, in the acquisition, financing, operation and ultimate disposition of their assets and in the formation and ongoing operation of the fund itself. Specialties include corporate finance, subordinated lending, senior lending, second lien lending, securities, recapitalizations, buyouts, mergers and acquisitions and restructuring.
Legislative and Public Law
Attorneys in the firm’s Energy Practice Group are experienced in handling legislative matters affecting all aspects of the energy industry. Our hands-on involvement in working with federal and state legislators on drafting legislation and submitting comments positions us to identify emerging issues as they develop, rather than reacting to changes after they have been implemented. The Energy Practice Group works closely with clients at the time new legislation or regulations are being discussed or proposed, and has the experience necessary to assess how courts will treat environmental problems.
As an increasing number of energy facilities are constructed, there is an ever-present need for insight as to the potential problems that could arise over the lifetime of the project. Attorneys in our Energy Practice Group work with contractors, engineers and suppliers on the design and construction of energy facilities. We are also experienced in drafting and negotiating procurement, engineering and construction agreements and operations and maintenance agreements, litigating and arbitrating construction disputes, and filing and dealing with bonding and insurance requirements.
Intellectual property is among the most valuable assets of any energy-related company. When a company’s intellectual property is jeopardized, serious setbacks such as financial difficulties and loss of the company’s integrity are possible. Benesch’s Energy Practice Group attorneys are skilled in protecting emerging environmental and energy-related technologies and providing proactive legal counsel. Among the matters the group handles are patents filings for complex technologies, trademark registrations and regulatory compliance matters.
- Represent public utilities in their litigation matters involving wrongful death, natural gas incidents, carbon monoxide, and related issues.
- Represent public utilities with respect to eminent domain, right of way and pipeline issues.
- Represented a landfill in connection with the negotiation of a LFG Development project to collect and commercial landfill gas.
- Represented a client in connection with the development of plants utilizing a proprietary process to convert polymer waste into transportation fuel blendstocks and heating oils, including, the negotiation of Blendstock Offtake Agreements.
- Represented a client in connection with the operation of plant converting municipal waste to steam.
- Advised a multinational company on Ohio requirements with respect to wind farms and wind farm leases.
- Advised various developers regarding negotiating oil and gas leases.
- Representation of a large holding company engaged in energy marketing before the Ohio General Assembly and various state agencies in connection with various state regulatory initiatives.
- Representation of a major American financial services company in Ohio Power Siting Board and ultimately gained approval on a transmission service line and in conveyance of line and related facilities.
- Representation of a major operator of electric power generating facilities in North America in its acquisition of three coal fired generation plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Including Ohio Power Siting Board approvals, PUCO approvals, eminent domain and zoning, real estate acquisitions and license and permit transfers.
- Representation of an energy company against group claiming that the company uses environmentally hazardous products.
- Representation of an international hydroelectric company before the Ohio Power Siting Board and PUCO. Leading to grant of a certificate of environmental capability and public need for a $1 billion proposed pumped storage hydroelectric project.
- Representation of both underwriters and issuers in preparing disclosure sections related to environmental issues and risk factors to be included in offering circulars and registration statements.
- Representation of clients in environmental matters including siting, emission limitations, licenses and permits before the Ohio EPA and U.S. EPA, the Environmental Review Appeals Commission and state and federal courts including the Ohio Supreme Court.
- Representation of large manufacturing and industrial clients in negotiating long-term power supply contracts and interconnection agreements with electric utilities in Ohio and across the nation.
- Representation of private clients in evaluating Clean Air Act Amendments and implementation of state mandated emission source compliance.
- Representation of private equity firms and public agencies in environmental projects and acquisitions and due diligence review.
- Representation of public and private clients in environmental permit requirements with federal, state and local agencies. Including industrial wastewater pretreatment permits, Title V, RCRA Part B permits, § 404/401 dredge and fill permits, CERCLA actions, state water quality certification projections and Section 208 planning requirements.
- Representation of public and private water and sewer providers in all aspects including enforcement actions brought by U.S. EPA, state EPAs and state attorneys general in solid waste, hazardous waste, groundwater discharge and air emissions cases.
- Representation of venture capital firms in environmental project acquisitions and due diligence review.
- Represented a bank in a foreclosure action including mineral rights.
- Represented a full-service real estate company that owns, acquires, develops and manages office, retail and multi-family properties throughout the U.S. in an oil and gas lease review in conjunction with a property acquisition out of foreclosure. Additionally, we negotiated the reclamation agreement with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
- Represented a landowner in an oil and gas lease review and negotiation of surface lease and mineral rights issues.
- Represented a lender in the foreclosure and sale of commercial property with mineral rights.
- Representation of a major operator of electric power generating facilities in North America in its acquisition of three coal fired generation plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania, including Ohio Power Siting Board approvals, PUCO approvals, eminent domain and zoning, real estate acquisitions and license and permit transfers.
- Representation of an international hydroelectric company before the Ohio Power Siting Board and PUCO, leading to grant of a certificate of environmental capability and public need for a $1 billion proposed pumped storage hydroelectric project.
- Represented North America’s leading operator of manufactured home communities, RV resorts and campgrounds in the negotiation of an oil and gas lease and methane gas processing agreement.
- Successfully defended a major natural gas supplier against allegations that it defrauded the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in order to avoid payment of millions of dollars in royalties owed to certain landowners for the alleged extraction of natural gas from their properties.