The Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council (NOPEC) is the largest public retail energy aggregation in Ohio, serving 800,000 electric and gas customers across 13 counties. NOPEC’s electric supplier abruptly notified NOPEC that it was terminating its contract, thus leaving NOPEC’s nearly half-million electric customers to return to utility service at higher rates. Bricker attorneys sprang into action to prevent NOPEC’s customers from paying these increased rates. The team negotiated a new complex electricity supply contract with NOPEC’s replacement supplier (worth approximately $1 billion); and, within 10 days, our client had signed a new three-year contract. With our assistance, NOPEC obtained two waivers from the PUCO to meet the expedited enrollment timeline. Meanwhile, within two weeks, our litigation team settled a TRO and injunction case involving the original supplier, which resulted in a multi-million-dollar settlement payment to NOPEC. In addition, our energy litigation team dissolved an ex parte TRO issued against NOPEC to a competitor regarding the NOPEC customer enrollment process. We also obtained a complete dismissal of the competitor’s lawsuit on the basis that the PUCO had exclusive jurisdiction over the matter.
Energy, Environment & Utilities
Enhancing the vitality of businesses and communities through the strategic management of energy and compliance with ever-changing environmental regulations.
Today’s energy landscape is rapidly evolving both regionally and globally, exposing tremendous challenges and opportunities for those involved in this industry. Renewable and nonrenewable energy, public and private utilities, and the environment are vital to businesses and communities, and the critical importance of these resources adds legal complexity.
Working from the perspective of both buyers and sellers, Bricker & Eckler has a practice group dedicated specifically to energy law and regularly works through energy marketplace transactions as well as regulatory proceedings to help companies achieve their goals. With a particular focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, we often match manufacturers with next generation energy applications and work to turn environmental liabilities into assets.
Bricker & Eckler is known to be at the forefront of the regulatory proceedings that are shaping the future of energy regulation. We were intimately involved with the creation of Ohio Senate Bill 221 and the implementation of the directives of SB 221 on behalf of numerous clients.
Our energy services prominently include the representation of clients before state and federal regulatory agencies, such as the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Ohio Power Siting Board and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. Additionally, our firm has extensive experience in the formation and operation of governmental aggregations as well as trade association aggregations.
Our environmental practice focuses on all aspects of environmental law, both state and federal, including counseling on regulatory compliance and litigation before Ohio’s Environmental Review Appeals Commission (ERAC) and state and federal courts.
Types of clients we represent:
- Real estate developers
- Municipalities and government agencies
- Solid waste companies
- Telecommunications companies
- Energy companies
Related Industries & Practices
As the nation’s energy resources broaden, the expansion of the nation’s energy infrastructure for the safe and reliable delivery of oil and gas via pipelines has become vital. Our attorneys keep up with this ever-changing area of law and work with clients to foresee and resolve regulatory, environmental and enforcement issues that arise during the construction, permitting, operation and maintenance of oil and gas pipelines. For more information, please visit our Midstream/Pipelines page.
We understand the importance of public policy to achieve success in the energy and utilities market. Continuously monitoring the political climate – and in certain cases driving legislation that supports our clients’ needs – we represent manufacturers, utilities, energy markets, merchant generators and renewable energy developers before various state regulatory commissions. Our clients look to us when they face specialized rule compliance, certification, permitting and siting, reporting compliance, regulatory requirement guidance, policy-making procedures and consumer issues.
The hallmark of Bricker & Eckler’s environmental law practice is our array of solid relationships with environmental regulators – from the Director of Ohio EPA to the staff permitting personnel in the field. We have an established reputation with agencies including the Ohio EPA and the U.S. EPA, government enforcement personnel such as the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the U.S. Department of Justice, and our colleagues within the Ohio environmental bar. We work diligently to maintain a high level of credibility with these contacts and share these relationships with our clients, so they can achieve their goals when confronted with environmental challenges.
Having worked with the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) on several projects worth more than $2 billion collectively, including two of the largest wind farm projects approved in Ohio, Bricker & Eckler has a successful history of providing clients with a wide range of legal services related to the OPSB process. Our team provides precertification services to developers, facilitates meetings and negotiations with the OPSB staff, participates in public and evidentiary hearings, and counsels clients regarding post-certification conditions related to construction and operation.
Bricker & Eckler has represented both public and private clients relating to a full range of regulatory issues and proceedings related to water and wastewater. Clients include regional water and sewer districts and municipalities, for which we have handled service area system acquisitions, expansions of service areas, certificate matters, rate cases, accounting cases and environmental enforcement cases. We have also defended against complaints brought by the regulatory agencies under the Clean Water Act and Ohio’s water pollution control statute.
Understanding both the regulatory structure established by Senate Bill 221 and the opportunities it creates, gives energy companies, manufacturers, hospitals, municipalities and other large energy consumers a key competitive advantage when they participate in the energy marketplace. Bricker & Eckler assists clients throughout the state and country to develop renewable energy projects that will most likely be successful – from financing to negotiation, construction, project development and more.
Provided comprehensive legal counsel to Clean Energy Future regarding the construction and operation of an 800 MW natural gas-fired combined-cycle power plant in northeast Ohio (Lordstown, Mahoning County, Ohio). We successfully represented the client through all phases of the Ohio Power Siting Board, including public hearings, OPSB staff investigations and an adjudicatory hearing, which resulted in the issuance of a certificate from the OPSB. In addition to the regulatory work, the firm served as Ohio counsel responsible for assisting with a closing in excess of $890 million of debt and equity financing for the construction of the project. This transaction involved extensive counsel on real estate, environmental and tax issues, including: real estate due diligence; title curative work; property acquisition and easement negotiations; document preparation; and work with lenders, equity investors, oil and gas companies, and the title insurer on title commitment and title insurance policy matters. Bricker continues to serve as Ohio counsel on the project, providing advice on all state regulatory, environmental and real estate matters.
Represent API-Ohio, a state affiliate office of the American Petroleum Institute in governmental affairs and lobbying activities before the Ohio General Assembly, the Governor’s Office and related statewide executive agencies. The firm has participated in high-profile and successful lobbying efforts regarding proposed legislative changes to the oil and gas severance tax and other oil and gas statutes in Ohio. In addition, we played an active role in numerous rule-makings before the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, including the horizontal well-site construction rules and emergency/incident notification rules. The firm has also been involved in negotiating various rule packages before Ohio EPA, the Ohio Department of Commerce and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio relating to incident notifications, air emissions from compressors and other facilities, and call before you dig procedures.
Represented the largest governmental retail energy aggregator in the country in a utility regulatory litigation matter valued at over $1 billion opposing an energy company's electric security plan, which involved a novel regulatory proposal permitting affiliate power purchase agreements.
Represent NRG Ohio Pipeline Co. LLC, a subsidiary of NRG Energy, Inc., in the siting of a high-pressure natural gas pipeline, 24 inches in diameter and 20 miles in length. The pipeline will supply NRG’s Avon Lake generation facility, which is being converted from a coal-fired plant to natural gas-fired plant. As part of this process, we assisted NRG in the formation of this pipeline subsidiary and represented the pipeline company through the permitting procedures of the Ohio Power Siting Board. After a fully-litigated proceeding, the client obtained its required certificate from the Ohio Power Siting Board in 2015. Obtaining this certificate was crucial to the future viability of the NRG plant in Avon Lake. The pipeline gives the company an alternative to $422 million in pollution control devices that would have been necessary to comply with federal Environmental Protection Agency pollution guidelines. Most recently, we have been working with NRG to assist with its easement acquisition efforts, including both voluntary easement negotiations and assistance with state court eminent domain proceedings.
Represented a permanent lender in connection with senior term loan and tax credit bridge loan financing for several solar facilities located in North Carolina.
Obtained injunctive relief and/or declaratory judgment as Trial Counsel in 11 Ohio Courts of Common Pleas against landowners and organized opposition permitting our client access to property to conduct survey activities during the FERC pre-application process in conjunction with its construction of a $2.5 billion, 250-mile interstate natural gas pipeline originating in Ohio. The complexity of the issues in this matter required sophisticated organization, detailed planning and structure, and complex litigation management skills.
Obtained injunctive relief in federal court permitting our client to access landowners' property to conduct survey activities during the FERC pre-application process in conjunction with its construction of a $450 million, 75-mile natural gas pipeline.
Represented a contractor in a lawsuit against a public owner when payment was withheld after a component of the landfill project failed.
Obtained a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction on an expedited timeline authorizing a natural gas pipeline company to access property subject to acquisition by eminent domain to conduct tree clearing activities in advance of moratoriums imposed on such activities in order to protect migratory birds and endangered bat species; contempt orders against property owners refusing to honor the order permitting access for tree clearing activities; and immediate injunctive relief against landowners refusing to permit access to their property via eminent domain for construction of a 75-mile natural gas pipeline in eastern Ohio. Also, negotiated settlements with landowners who permitted access and complex, technical settlements with public utilities to resolve overlapping easement situations.
Successfully represented one of the nation's largest energy producers and transporters, Dominion East Ohio, in a case involving a natural gas supplier who placed restricted covenants on property deeds, forcing all owners and lessees to buy gas from it. The supplier sued Dominion when a commercial customer tried to enter into a new retail supply agreement with them. Courts struck down the covenant for lack of considerations and ruled the restriction as a violation of Ohio public policy.
Assisted in closing in excess of $500 million of debt and equity financing for the construction of an Ohio-based 800 MW electric generation plant on behalf of an energy company. This transaction involved dozens of parties including lenders, equity investors, land sellers, railroads, gas pipeline companies, governmental entities, a title insurer and others.
Represented a natural gas utility in the negotiation and acquisition of a rural natural gas pipeline system in eastern Ohio. The transaction involved the completion of due diligence and negotiation of a complicated asset purchase agreement and corresponding escrow agreement.
Represented a public owner in a lawsuit against a contractor when a $14 million surface water treatment plant was delivered over a year late and the contractor made claims for additional payment.
Formed and worked with the Southeastern Ohio Landowners Association (SEOLA) to combine the acreage of landowners in five southeastern counties in order to negotiate oil and gas leases with multiple energy companies. SEOLA blossomed into the longest-lasting and most successful landowners group in Ohio with a dozen deals closed with eight different oil and gas companies, involving approximately 70,000 acres and more than $300 million in upfront, per-acre bonus payments to SEOLA landowners.
Successfully assisted Oregon Clean Energy LLC in the acquisition of a certificate from the Ohio Power Siting Board in May 2013 to begin construction on the 799-megawatt Oregon Clean Energy Center, a natural gas-fired combined-cycle generating facility located in Oregon, Ohio. Our firm continues to provide significant tax, real estate and construction counsel on the project. Additionally, we are representing the project before the OPSB to amend its certificate to reflect changes in facility design.
Provided representation to a bank trustee controlling nearly 4,000 acres of mineral rights in eastern Ohio. Beginning with the negotiation of an above-market-value oil and gas lease, which resulted in an initial payment to the trust of tens of millions of dollars, we provided related legal services, including the completion of title curative work, lease maintenance activities and the negotiation of ancillary agreements.
Assisted a college with various aspects of environmental regulation, including advanced energy and energy efficiency developments, power purchase agreements and leasing arrangements, in order to help them take full advantage of various financing opportunities.
Prepared numerous water/wastewater bid package and contract documents.
Represented a city against a contractor’s claims of differing site conditions and defective plans on an upland reservoir that covered 100 acres.
Represented a county against a defunct sewer contractor and its surety, leading to a $3.5 million settlement because of defective and incomplete work.
Provided outside legal consulting services and prepared wastewater bid packages and contract documents for Ohio's three largest wastewater treatment providers.
Represented a city against an international manufacturer of large-scale wastewater treatment equipment when a tertiary filter did not meet performance expectations.
Successfully negotiated an incentive package for the developer of a natural gas-fired turbine electric generation facility, including the exemption of personal property taxes on all machinery and equipment.
Represented NTE Ohio, LLC, a subsidiary of NTE Energy LLC, before the Ohio Power Siting Board for the permitting and construction of the Middletown Energy Center, a $500 million combined cycle natural gas-fired facility with generation capacity of 540 megawatts to be located in Middletown, Ohio. The OPSB authorized the construction of the facility on November 24, 2014. Since authorization, the firm also assisted in a lengthy and complex due diligence process as the company successfully secured financing. Additionally, our firm continues providing the project with substantial regulatory, tax and real estate counsel.
Represented a landowner and litigated a quiet title action to a successful settlement with the operators of an abandoned oil and gas lease.
Negotiated build-to-suit leases, related easements, construction contracts and energy contracts on behalf of manufacturing facilities, factory distribution centers and warehouses, including one of the state's largest employers.
Negotiated and documented the relocation of easements with public utility companies in order to clear a site for a manufacturer's development.
Assisted several Fortune 500 companies in locating their operations centers, distribution centers and warehouses in Ohio. Projects involved rezonings, variances, environmental permittings and remediations, financings, and coordinating tax abatement and other economic incentives from state and local governmental agencies.
Served as trial counsel in Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) litigation representing a current owner against various potentially responsible parties.
Bricker & Eckler is a leader in property assessed clean energy (PACE) Financing and its implementation in Ohio. PACE laws allows property owners to borrow money through governmental loans or bonds to pay for energy improvements to their properties. The resource center explains energy SIDs and PACE financing and demonstrates how these tools can help local governments, industries, businesses or homeowners how to achieve their green energy goals. For more information, please visit our Energy SIDs & PACE Financing Resource Center.
The enormous potential of shale in Ohio and its contiguous states is creating a regional oil and gas “gold rush." This resource center includes a comprehensive array of resources discussing the opportunities, challenges and complexities associated with development of the Utica and Marcellus Shale. For more information, please visit our Shale Resource Center.
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School lead sampling grants available