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.
Oil & Gas
Shale solutions. Statewide connectivity. On-the-ground experience.
Bricker & Eckler’s multidisciplinary Oil & Gas group offers practical and creative solutions to a variety of legal, regulatory and policy issues involving oil and gas development in and around Ohio. With a focus on the Marcellus and Utica Shale boom in Appalachia, our team has practical, on-the-ground experience to effectively assist clients in all aspects of the oil and gas industry.
Our services prominently include:
- Real estate counsel
- Environmental permitting
- Government relations
- Construction contract review and negotiation
- Tax and project finance advice
We also frequently represent clients before state and federal regulatory agencies, such as the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA Ohio).
Types of clients we represent:
- Exploration and production companies
- National oil and gas trade associations
- Natural gas pipeline companies
- Financial institutions
- Public and private landowners
- Real estate developers
- Electricity generation facilities
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.
Our experience with oil and gas transactions highlights the breadth of the firm’s energy practice and involves tens of thousands of acres throughout the Appalachian Basin. Working through real estate, land use and construction challenges, we prepare and negotiate a variety of transactional documents, including oil and gas leases, pipeline easements, road use maintenance agreements (RUMAs) and mineral conveyance documents. Our team also addresses complex real and personal property tax issues, environmental and regulatory challenges, and cross-jurisdictional projects – all of which are critical to shale development in Ohio. Visit our Real Estate practice.
Bricker & Eckler has a proven track record of successfully resolving oil and gas disputes on behalf of its clients. We approach problems practically, with an understanding that litigating a case may not always be the best method for resolution. The various types of oil and gas litigation matters in which we have experience include: eminent domain proceedings; appellate work before Ohio’s intermediate appellate courts and the Ohio Supreme Court; mineral rights ownership disputes; oil and gas lease disputes; coal and pipeline company disputes; nuisance and trespass claim involving water supply or property contamination; and class action litigation matters involving energy companies. Visit our Litigation practice.
Bricker’s Shale Task Force is actively involved in Ohio’s regulatory arena, giving our oil and gas attorneys special insight into the complex regulatory and environmental issues that surround energy development. Our team, which includes a former commissioner of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) and former Master Commissioner of Public Utility Law for the Ohio Supreme Court, regularly appears before permitting agencies such as the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Ohio Power Siting Board, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Environmental Review Appeals Commission, in addition to the PUCO. Each attorney has developed close working relationships with key staff members at these state agencies. Visit our Energy, Environment & Utilities practice.
Every government relations attorney in our Shale Task Force is a registered lobbyist with diverse experience in the Ohio energy market. They have longstanding relationships with public officials within all levels and branches of government. As a result, we do more than help our oil and gas clients understand existing laws and regulations; we are able to effectively present their viewpoints, advance their interests and use legislation and rulemaking as a problem-solving tool. Visit our Government Relations practice.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Successfully obtained complete relief for a client through settlement by intervening in an appeal of a certified class action to relieve the client from any obligations under an expired oil and gas lease at issue in the case and to avoid application of the trial court's tolling order against landowners with the form oil and gas lease at the heart of the class action.
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.
Filed amicus briefs on behalf of oil and gas clients in various Ohio appellate courts regarding the Ohio Dormant Minerals Act, including the Ohio Supreme Court.
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 oil and gas clients in various Ohio appellate courts, including the Ohio Supreme Court and various intermediate appellate courts regarding Ohio Dormant Minerals Act appeals.
Represented oil and gas clients in various Ohio appellate courts, including the Ohio Supreme Court and various intermediate appellate courts regarding expiration of leases.
Represented a landowner and litigated a quiet title action to a successful settlement with the operators of an abandoned oil and gas lease.
Collaborating with government entities and private developers to build and implement creative strategies that promote investment, create jobs and enhance communities. For more information, please visit our DevelopOhio 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.
U.S. Supreme Court denies certiorari for Walker DMA case
Ohio Supreme Court holds 1989 version of Ohio Dormant Minerals Act is NOT self-executing
U.S. Supreme Court decision may undercut recent PUCO decisions approving ratepayer-subsidized power purchase agreements for Ohio utilities
Big oil going high tech
Ohio Supreme Court decides lease is "title transaction" under DMA