The energy and public utility industries are continually undergoing transformation and responding to a series of important political, economic and technological events. Most recently, the industries have been confronted with the forces of deregulation and restructuring. These changes have led to increases in the volume and type of business disputes and lawsuits, ranging from basic contract disputes to more complex matters involving an intricate maze of overlapping federal and state statutes and regulations. Recognizing the substantial complexity of the legal and regulatory environment faced by the energy and public utility industries, Balch & Bingham has organized a litigation group whose primary focus is on energy and public utility litigation.
In addition to our general grounding in trial work in federal and state court, we work closely with the Firm’s energy practice, which has a national reputation. In addition, having worked with and for energy and public utilities for over 95 years, the Firm has a wide base of experience with corporate, tax, securities, environmental, real property, and risk management issues confronting energy and public utility firms. This substantial grounding in the nuts and bolts of the energy and utility industries, together with specialized expertise in all areas of legal endeavor, gives Balch the unique ability to quickly and effectively form cross-functional teams to staff litigation matters in an efficient and comprehensive fashion.
Balch has represented a diverse group of clients, ranging from small industrial users of gas and electricity, to developers of biomass collection and distribution systems, to gas production firms seeking access to local gas transportation systems, to major multi-state electric holding companies. We work regularly with complex (and simple) matters relating to state and federal jurisdiction disputes arising out of dual regulatory schemes, contractual disputes between utilities, controversies concerning retail wheeling and transmission access, transmission system interconnection and regional utility coordination, as well as conflicts arising out of major energy development projects.
The Firm has advised and represented clients in cases involving the following:
- Antitrust matters involving service territory allocation and essential facilities
- Exercise of force majeure and price reopener provisions of large coal purchase contracts
- Defense of a major public utility holding company system in the largest Clean Air Act enforcement action ever launched by the United States
- Prosecution of a challenge regarding the Department of Energy’s obligation to dispose of spent nuclear fuel
- Franchise competition, utility accounting, stranded costs, premise liability for exposure to asbestos and other substances
- Royalty and tax cases concerning natural gas production
- Bulk power sales contract disputes between multi-state holding companies and pole attachments
- Has brought challenges by numerous utilities against the Federal government and distributors of federally generated power with regard to scope and nature of permissible power sales.