Gibbons works with a range of clients in the energy and utilities space, from traditional regulated utilities, including electric, gas, telephone, cable, water, and wastewater, to renewable energy concerns, in a wide variety of litigation and corporate transactional matters, addressing project structure and finance, regulatory, employment and labor, intellectual property, government affairs, products liability, real property, and environmental issues, among others. In addition, we coordinate extensively with numerous utilities in the course of representing other clients on real estate, land use, environmental, construction, and related projects. We have extensive experience with issues that are both germane and unique to the utilities and energy fields.
Areas of Focus
Liability and Tort Matters
Several litigators from our firm’s Products Liability Group have specific experience defending public utilities in a variety of strict liability personal injury, negligence, and property damage matters. With respect to the representation of public utilities in tort and other matters, our attorneys have defended numerous personal injury cases involving fatal or serious injuries from electrocution and gas (natural and propane) explosions. In addition to personal injury matters, we have represented public utilities in property damage cases involving a range of damage levels. In this regard, we have acted as pre-litigation counsel during the investigation stage and have handled these matters once they have reached the courthouse. In addition to public utilities, our attorneys have defended a number of clients, including fuel transport system companies, oil and fuel companies, and electronics manufacturers, in electrocution, fire, and explosion cases involving serious personal injury or substantial property damage. For example, we recently served as monitoring counsel for a public utility in litigation relating to a gas explosion involving multiple plaintiffs and claims of substantial personal injury, property damage, and business interruption.
Renewable Energy Financing
Clients seeking to build renewable energy projects within the state of New Jersey, where Gibbons has extensive experience in government relations, as well as in real estate finance, land use, and environmental law, greatly benefit from our proficiency in the legislative process, strong relationships, and intimate knowledge of government programs in this arena. Funding for energy projects, in particular, is complex and difficult. Gibbons leverages our many years of financing experience and deep relationships in business, equity, commercial banking, investment banking, and government to help our clients structure, finance, and close these complicated transactions. We structure plausible transactions designed to take advantage of project and permanent finance from many private and non-private financing sources, on behalf of independent power producers, financial institutions, state governments, commercial energy consumers, and private investment funds. We advise clients on all components of energy projects, including project finance, infrastructure development, grant qualification, federal tax credits, solar renewable energy credits (SRECs), project structures, federal and state regulatory compliance matters, special purpose vehicles (SPVs), power purchase agreements (PPAs) and other long-term contracts, tax exempt energy users, construction and development loans, bridge loans, and long-term finance, as well as mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, joint bidding arrangements, and revenue securitizations.
Real Estate and Environmental, Including Utility Right-of-Way Issues
Gibbons attorneys work with clients on a wide range of real estate and development matters that impact utility and energy projects, including zoning and land use approvals, condemnation, and buying, selling, leasing, and financing properties. In the environmental arena, Gibbons can assist utility and energy clients with regard to air pollution control, water pollution control, solid and hazardous waste, site remediation, and permitting matters, and we handle cost recovery litigation.
Gibbons has experience working on utilities right-of-way issues in a variety of settings and has worked closely with a major utility to help structure a significant, award-winning redevelopment project for a client. Invariably, these types of real estate development and redevelopment projects involve coordination of utility service for the projects in question and result in expansion of the utilities’ customer bases. The firm has also worked with clients on redevelopment projects requiring close coordination with utilities in connection with the relocation of major utility lines, in one matter involving our client structuring an easement for the project with the utility’s real estate group.
The Gibbons Construction Law & Litigation Team has extensive experience in matters undertaken on behalf of utilities and energy industry clients. For example, in connection with energy-related projects, the team prepares and negotiates construction contracts with designers, contractors, and major equipment suppliers, as well as various other agreements, including EPC, fuel supply, and operation and maintenance agreements. We also represent these clients in connection with a wide range of claims and disputes, including those related to contracts, design, construction and manufacturing defects, warranties, extra work, and delays. In addition, our construction attorneys assist energy and utility clients in obtaining necessary permits for their projects, such as, for example, air permits and permits for seabed emplacement of transmission cables.
Government & Regulatory Affairs
Our Government & Regulatory Affairs Group provides comprehensive regulatory counseling and advocacy, as well as business incentive and procurement counseling, to regulated utilities and energy companies with interests before the state of New Jersey, Board of Public Utilities, and related state agencies. Also on the state level, we review, analyze, and monitor hundreds of bills per legislative session for these clients, focusing on those of particular operational or financial significance and creating lobbying strategies to achieve their objectives. In addition, Gibbons Government & Regulatory Affairs has a regular lobbying presence on Capitol Hill.
Gibbons lawyer-lobbyists regularly provide advice to energy, telecommunications, water, and gas utilities that are positioning their strategically important legal and policy issues before the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Governor’s Office of Recovery and Rebuilding, and Office of Governor’s Counsel within the New Jersey Statehouse.
Gibbons attorneys represent public utilities in patent litigation, including multidistrict patent infringement litigation. In addition, the firm has worked with utilities to identify innovations developed by their personnel. Gibbons has filed patent applications on this subject matter, which have been the subject of patent licensing agreements that have provided clients with unexpected revenue sources.
Employment and Labor
Gibbons attorneys have defended regulated utilities or energy concerns against a wide range of employment related allegations, addressing sexual, racial, age, and sexual orientation discrimination and/or harassment, hostile work environment, whistle-blowing and retaliation, disability accommodation and discrimination, breach of contract, defamation, wage and hour, independent contractor status, and terminations and workforce restructurings, among many other issues.