Keeping your business moving.
Our utilities team is more than 50-strong, providing a wide variety of legal services to numerous electrical, gas, and water utilities. For decades, it has been our honor to serve as counsel for Louisville Gas and Electric Company, Kentucky Utilities Company, Duke Energy Corporation, Direct Energy LP, East Kentucky Power Cooperative, and American Electric Power Service, and many more clients in the utilities industry. Our representation of utilities spans decades and is spread across our entire footprint — from Houston to Pittsburgh and most places in between.
Ashley L. Oliker
For decades, we have represented numerous electric and gas utility companies, independent power producers, oil & gas firms and other energy service providers throughout the United States and overseas, in connection with their strategic and day-to-day corporate and transactional matters. We are highly experienced and knowledgeable when it comes to the industry-specific issues our clients face, and we are proud of our long-standing reputation for successfully closing the transactions they pursue, enabling them to capture significant value that is vital to their businesses.
In the power sector, our team’s representative corporate and transactional engagements include:
- Advice to public and private company Boards of Directors and Senior Executive Officers on numerous energy, regulatory, corporate governance and fiduciary matters.
- The development, financing, construction, leasing and de-commissioning of power generating facilities (coal, gas and renewable), transmission and distribution facilities and facility upgrades, including environmental control systems (scrubbers, low NOx burners, select catalytic reduction (SCR) facilities) and coal to gas conversions.
- The acquisition and divestiture of utility companies, as well as their power generating stations, transmission and distribution systems, gas distribution systems and associated operations.
- The de-commissioning of nuclear generating stations and associated transactions.
- Power, gas and steam purchase and sale agreements, interconnection agreements, transmission agreements and trading arrangements.
- Fuel purchase and sale agreements and associated transportation agreements, including the development and deployment of refined coal processing strategies.
- Facility management and operation agreements.
- Grid upgrade projects, advanced (smart) meter infrastructure deployments, and home energy management system (HEMS) deployments.
- Corporate restructurings and subsidiary consolidations/rationalizations.
- Call center management and staffing transactions.
- Energy efficiency programs, including state- and municipally-sponsored programs.
- Derivative, hedging and swap transactions.
- Large-scale procurement contracting.
- Real estate procurements, easements, rights-of-way and pole attachment arrangements.
- Software development agreements and intellectual property license agreements.
We represent utilities in bankruptcy matters on a nationwide basis, providing consistent cross-jurisdiction support grounded in a focused understanding of each client’s business and the issues unique to their industry. Our team has significant experience handling high-profile bankruptcy actions for a number of clients, including:
- Enron (New York, NY)
- Lyondell Chemical Company (New York, NY)
- Chrysler (New York, NY)
- Borders Books (New York, NY)
- Value City (New York, NY)
- Collins & Aikman (Detroit, MI)
- Flying J (Delaware)
- Linens N Things (Delaware)
- RadioShack (Delaware)
- Toys R Us (Delaware)
- Smurfit Stone (Delaware)
- Circuit City (Richmond, VA)
- James River Coal (Richmond, VA)
- Max & Erma’s (Pittsburgh, PA)
- Payless Shoes (St. Louis, MO)
- Windstream (New York, NY)
Expertise Specific to Utility Companies in Bankruptcy
We are experienced and knowledgeable with respect to the industry-specific issues utility providers face as creditors and suppliers in Chapter 11 reorganizations and Chapter 7 liquidations. In light of the special Bankruptcy Code provisions which apply only to utility providers, our team has developed appropriate and effective defenses to Bankruptcy claw back actions through our many years of defending utility companies.
Types of Services
We provide the following services to our utility provider clients:
- Provide planning advice when it appears that a customer is in financial trouble and may be headed toward bankruptcy.
- Guide providers and creditors through Chapter 11 reorganizations and Chapter 7 liquidations.
- Represent utility providers with regard to bankruptcy issues involving supply contracts, power purchase contracts and pole attachment agreements.
- Negotiate and effectuate adequate assurance measures to protect our clients for post-petition utility services provided to customers who are in the midst of a bankruptcy proceeding.
- Defend our clients against various stay violation matters, preference claims, fraudulent conveyance claims, and other claw back claim actions.
- Review daily bankruptcy reports to identify matters in which our clients may have an interest.
Our trial lawyers have a wealth of experience defending electrical and gas utilities in defense of wrongful death, personal injury, and property damage lawsuits. Our defense of electrical and gas utilities ranges from residential fires, to asbestos lawsuits, to electrical contact injuries, to large-scale disasters. With decades of experience representing utilities, we have a deep understanding of our utility clients’ core business values and an excellent working knowledge of the industry.
Frost Brown Todd also has extensive asbestos and silica litigation practice. Our attorneys have been heavily involved in national asbestos and silica litigation for more than twenty years, and we offer a depth of experience to navigate our utilities clients through the asbestos and silica litigation they face while avoiding crucial mistakes made by other companies.
- Jefferson Circuit Court, Louisville, Kentucky – Our trial lawyers obtained a defense verdict in favor of an electrical utility company in a motorcycle lawsuit seeking $4.5 million in personal injury damages.
- Union Circuit Court, Morganfield, Kentucky – Our trial lawyers obtained a defense verdict in favor of an electrical utility company and tree trimming company on property damage claims related to a tree fall accident.
- Jefferson Circuit Court, Louisville, Kentucky – Our trial lawyers obtained a complete dismissal of all claims against an electrical utility company in a wrongful death house fire lawsuit seeking more than $13 million in damages.
- Jefferson Circuit Court, Louisville, Kentucky – Our trial lawyers gained summary judgment in favor of a gas and electric utility company on personal injury claims in motorcycle case seeking more than $4 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
- United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky – Our trial lawyers obtained summary judgment in favor of a gas and electric utility company on wrongful death and loss of consortium claims related to a workplace accident.
Our lawyers understand the business of both regulated and unregulated utilities, including the types of business disputes that commonly arise. We have decades-worth of experience assisting utilities in business litigation matters through negotiation, motion practice, mediation, trial, and appeal. Our trial team is experienced in and adept at handling all types of business litigation for utilities, from lawsuits and arbitrations concerning short and long-term power purchase agreements to power supply contracts, vendor contracts, and other complex agreements. Our team further holds significant class action defense experience on behalf of utilities, including experience defending against claims under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. We also understand the impact of regulation on a utilities’ relationship with contracting parties and others.
Our environmental team has extensive experience representing electric utility clients and companies with industrial coal-fired boilers, natural gas-fired engines, and combined cycle plants. Due to the breadth of our experience in nearly all of the environmental regulatory programs (air, water, solid and hazardous waste, toxic substances, endangered species), electric utility clients have turned to us in a variety of situations, including:
- Defending against regulatory agency enforcement actions.
- Overseeing environmental issues in transactions.
- Counseling on regulatory updates and compliance issues.
- Negotiating and, if necessary, appealing environmental permits.
- Overseeing and advising in environmental remediation or cleanup situations.
- Providing legal support and counsel in the event of an environmental crisis.
Our attorneys have developed a deep understanding of the industry, how it works, and the environmental challenges it faces. We closely monitor new and emerging environmental issues that impact the electric utility industry and regularly counsels clients in these areas.
The current “top-of-mind” environmental topics in the electric utility industry include: counseling on federal coal combustion residuals (CCR) rule and other issues related to the management of CCR, pro-active counseling and defense of alleged violations relating to Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and New Source Review (NSR) under the Clean Air Act, and counseling on effluent limitation guidelines and standards (ELGs) for steam electric power generating sources under the Clean Water Act.
See, “Environmental Practice: Experience Highlights” to explore recent examples of our work in the utilities industry.
Our nuclear energy team has extensive experience across the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) complex supporting both commercial nuclear and government contractor clients. We count former Department of Justice prosecutors and in-house counsel among our ranks, including a former senior managing attorney for an EPC management Fortune 100 contractor. We have a keen understanding of the regulatory overlay for nuclear industry participants engaged in the management, operation, construction, fabrication, waste mitigation and decommissioning of DOE and NRC regulated facilities.
Our attorneys advise on the entire scope of commercial and government contract compliance and administration matters, with proven efficiency helping clients implement both case-specific and comprehensive compliance solutions. We also help clients conduct timely and accurate internal investigations and resolve any issues related to the formation or execution of joint venture/consortium agreements, the decommissioning of nuclear facilities, as well as inspector general inquiries and NRC investigations.
We are experienced in NRC construction certified new-build projects in the United States with matters involving new reactors, fuel fabrication site-design and more. In these projects, our team has represented owners as well as principal contractors.
We have been involved in the administration and bidding of DOE national lab Management & Operating contracts representing both prospective and incumbent bidders. Importantly, we are well versed at navigating the administration and resolution of issues that arise in the execution or formation of a joint venture/consortium agreements, teaming arrangements or other risk-sharing mechanisms prevalent in the nuclear industry. This includes both the formation and administration of agreements, as well as disputes arising from sub-prime contracts, joint venture dissolutions and key employee poaching.
Recognizing that the regulatory overlay applied to the construction and operation of a nuclear facility also extends to the decommissioning of a nuclear facility. Our nuclear energy team is well-versed in this growing area of nuclear practice as well. Our experience includes representing an international nuclear technology company and joint venture actively seeking to increase its decommissioning presence and providing legal support for active commercial nuclear-decommissioning projects.
Investigations & Defense Matters
In large part due to our attorneys’ experience as in-house counsel and DOJ prosecutors, we have extensive experience conducting timely, accurate, complete and efficient internal investigations across the compliance/risk spectrum, which includes false claims acts, DOE Part 708, whistleblower, anti-kickback, inspector general and department of justice lead inquiries, NRC investigations and NRC Part 21 disclosures.
Contract Compliance & Administration
Our team has experience supporting the entire scope of commercial and government contract compliance and administration. We are highly experienced in both upstream and downstream contract administration and compliance. Specifically, we work with clients to prepare and install full-spectrum contract compliance programs (i.e., codes of conduct, training, certifications) and to execute highly specialized and case-specific compliance solutions.
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