Renewable Energy and Sustainability - Detailed Information

Renewable Energy and Sustainability

We Know Green®

Areas of Experience

Renewable Energy Development

The members of the Duane Morris Renewable Energy and Sustainability group have broad and extensive experience in energy, project finance, tax, corporate, construction, intellectual property, environmental, real property, employment, and municipal law matters. We possess the business experience and creative legal thinking necessary to help clients bring renewable energy to market. Our attorneys have assisted clients with a myriad of complicated legal issues these clients face in the energy industry, and we stand ready to assist in resolving new challenges related specifically to renewable energy as they arise.

Duane Morris attorneys are fluent in both the science of renewable energy and the regulations that tend to pervade renewable energy projects. Members of the group regularly represent clients developing new energy from solar, wind, cogeneration, biomass, biodiesel, biofuel, hydropower, clean coal technologies, new battery and fuel cell technology and other sources. We have assisted clients "from the ground up" with due diligence review, finance, facility construction, energy policy, LEED certification, regulatory compliance and permitting as well as with transactional work, contracts, carbon credits and tax matters on a multitude of renewable energy projects. We also work with clients seeking to implement proactive sustainability and conservation practices, including on-site generation, advanced metering, demand-side management and cogeneration.

We have negotiated Purchase Power Agreements, Transmission Service Agreements, Interconnection Agreements, Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) agreements, Operation and Maintenance (O&M) agreements and carbon credit agreements. Duane Morris attorneys have decades of experience supporting the many aspects in the life cycle of renewable energy projects.

Our attorneys have backgrounds in disciplines key to the development of renewable energy resources. We have worked with developers of photovoltaic and concentrated solar thermal power projects, including utility-scale projects requiring our electric transmission experience, proposed inside-the-fence projects and distributed generation projects. We have worked on wind projects, including licensing, equipment purchases, real estate easement and acquisitions throughout the United States and in South America, including one of the largest wind projects east of the Mississippi River. We also have significant experience working with developers of innovative biomass projects and biofuel facilities.

Renewable Energy Development Experience

Energy Regulation and Compliance

Duane Morris lawyers have played pivotal roles in essential phases of administrative energy policy development since 1978. Since 1985, Duane Morris lawyers have taken part in the restructuring of the electric service industry at the federal level, contributing to the development of FERC Order Nos. 888 and 2000, and creation of the nation's first Regional Transmission System Operator. Throughout, Duane Morris lawyers participated in countless agency hearings and filed comments in numerous proposed rulemaking proceedings.

Our attorneys are also active in state regulatory proceedings and markets and have worked to open energy markets to competitive suppliers and to promote renewable energy policy, markets and development. In addition, we have represented clients regarding transmission issues across the United States, and in California in particular. For example, we have actively participated in regulatory and environmental proceedings related to the construction of transmission capacity needed to move renewable energy to demand centers and have addressed transmission issues before the CPUC, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Department of the Interior (DOI) and Department of Energy (DOE).

Duane Morris is counsel to the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator (MISO), advising MISO on all matters before FERC, including transmission pricing and congestion management issues. The firm assisted in the establishment of MISO as the first FERC-approved Regional Transmission Organization (RTO) in December 2001. In addition, our attorneys have represented clients that are members of the New York System Operator (NYISO) and have been involved in the organization and development of the NYISO. This experience helps us to navigate the issues involved in market-design, including the development, implementation and enforcement of market rules, and with the regulation and pricing of energy and ancillary services.

Energy Regulation and Compliance Experience

Energy Facility Construction and Recommissioning

The financing, planning and construction of any major infrastructure project are always highly scrutinized, multi-staged and multifaceted. When a project's aim is to create or recommission a new facility to generate power, the scrutiny, complexity and potential for challenges increase exponentially.

Duane Morris lawyers understand that undertaking projects large or small requires big-picture thinking partnered with dexterous handling and execution of finely drawn details. In working with clients regarding issues involving solar, wind, water, biomass, coal, natural gas, biogas, oil or nuclear power, our lawyers bring skills from a broad range of disciplines to advise our clients throughout the many stages of energy facility construction or recommission projects. With a strong technological foundation, our firm can call upon dozens of attorneys with engineering degrees, including experienced nuclear engineers, and others who have worked directly in power plants in a variety of technical, supervisory and managerial roles.

Duane Morris attorneys support our clients from the early planning stages (including community relations efforts and economic development initiatives to reach out to environmentalists and special interests) through labor acquisition and project management (dealing with architects, engineers, contractors, venders, suppliers, insurers and others) through operational issues (including counsel on emergency plans, quality/whistleblower issues, security and waste disposal).

We have lawyers experienced with issues surrounding Construction and Operating Licenses (COL) and EPC contracts. Our attorneys have handled all of the issues that traditionally arise, whether they involve payment disputes, insurance coverage, allegations of defective design or construction, changed or unforeseen conditions, delays, disruptions, loss of productivity or similar claims. As noted, several of our lawyers are LEED accredited.

Energy Facility Construction and Recommissioning Experience


In addition to developing new sources of energy, public and private sector energy consumers are seeking ways to increase sustainability by introducing energy efficiency and demand reduction management technologies in new construction and retrofitting of existing buildings and facilities. These energy consumers represent categories of users such as industrial, commercial, agriculture, transportation, governmental and residential. Concentrated energy users such as data centers are moving to the forefront of these efforts. Major efforts are also underway in the U.S. and many other countries to increase the intelligence of the grid and increase the information flow to and from customer sites.

Members of the Duane Morris Renewable Energy and Sustainability group have been engaged for many years in working with entities throughout, and related to, the energy industry such as utilities, energy services companies (ESCOs), manufacturers of energy conserving equipment, contractors, energy project financiers, developers, and facility owners together with existing and emerging customer groups in connection with implementing and exploring energy efficiency and demand response technologies. We have also worked with commercial building developers, owners, renovators, financiers, contractors, suppliers and professionals to develop and implement sustainable projects and help transform building, construction, renovation, retrofitting, operations and maintenance. We have provided services in connection with virtually every step of these projects from concepts to completion and our experience enables us to work effectively with clients to assist them in advancing and completing their objectives.

For example, Duane Morris attorneys:

  • Work with clients, such as ESCOs, that perform (or facility owners that contract for) energy auditing, meter services, energy demand management and energy efficiency projects;
  • Negotiate and prepare contracts related to design, procurement, construction, operations and maintenance, financing, governmental and incentives in connection with energy conservation and demand management improvements;
  • Negotiate and prepare energy performance and shared savings agreements;
  • Counsel clients in regards to metering installations including advanced interval electric meters and related real time pricing and time of use pricing;
  • Negotiate the financing of energy projects including conventional financing, project financing and municipal lease financing;
  • Counsel clients on the development of on-site co-generation projects;
  • Negotiate and draft contracts relating to green attributes including carbon related transactions in connection with projects, and
  • Represent clients in litigation matters arising out of energy efficiency and demand management projects.

Federal Building & Green Construction

Duane Morris advises our clients on issues associated with Building Information Management (BIM) and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System building issues. In fact, many of our lawyers in both our Construction and Renewable Energy and Sustainability Groups are LEED accredited professionals.

The benefits of pursuing green design and construction continue to expand, causing many diverse owner/developer groups and project types to embrace these technologies, design elements and operation models. Moving in the green direction without proper preparation may cause a development to see red in the form of red tape, interruptions and negative bottom-line impacts. We help our clients meet some of the challenges more likely to be encountered when building green, or made more acute when the goal of the project takes on a greenish hue.

Duane Morris' attorneys are also at the forefront of the project delivery method known as Energy Savings Performance Contracting (ESPC). ESPC is a favored method for both the Federal Government and State governments to upgrade the energy performance of their aging facilities. Our attorneys have drafted and negotiated ESPC contracts, worked on the financing aspects of such projects, and have litigated the complex claims that can arise from such projects. Litigating these claims requires our attorneys to be fully versed in procurement law, including the Federal Acquisition Regulations, the Code of Federal Regulations, and other aspects of government contract law, including bid protest law.

Environmental Regulation

Duane Morris attorneys have backgrounds in disciplines key to environmental regulation, including the use of science in the regulatory process. The types of matters where our environmental attorneys provide counsel include:

  • Governmental enforcement actions, including compliance matters
  • Regulatory counseling and agency advocacy
  • Environmental audits and compliance
  • Risk assessments
  • Cost recovery and contribution actions
  • Internal investigations
  • Real estate and corporate transactions
  • Development of environmental management systems
  • Environmental crimes
  • Permitting – both defense and appeals

Our substantive areas of experience include air, water, drinking water, solid and hazardous waste, Superfund, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, compliance with above and underground storage tanks requirements, children's health, toxic torts, brownfields and the Toxic Substances Control Act.

With California taking a leadership role addressing climate change, Duane Morris attorneys have actively participated in the implementation proceedings for AB 32 at the CPUC, the California Energy Commission and the California Air Resources Board, leading to the recent issuance of the Final Scoping Plan. We are similarly involved in other regional efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in other parts of the United States and the world, such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and the Western Climate Initiative (WCI). We have provided advice regarding business strategy and permitting associated with greenhouse gas emissions and have negotiated contracts for the sale of carbon credits and other environmental attributes.

We have represented clients on permitting, investigation and enforcement matters arising under an array of federal programs and their state equivalents, including the Clean Air Act (CAA), Superfund, Clean Water Act (CWA) and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act programs. Our experience has ranged from serving as lead counsel for Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs) in multiparty Superfund litigation, to representing clients in CAA Title V permit proceedings.

Environmental Regulation Experience

Water Rights and Regulation

One of society's oldest problems is managing water. Today the challenge of water is not only supply, but also state and federal legislation, environmental challenges, increasing regulatory control, supply-demand conflicts, emerging technologies and developmental concerns that accompany the fundamental question of water rights. Our water attorneys address the intertwined interests of government, business and the community when legal, policy and political issues involving water emerge.

Our attorneys assist clients in advisory, regulatory and litigation matters involving water, the environment and natural resources. Protecting water rights of municipalities and farmers, negotiating and contracting with private and governmental water agencies, complying with complex water and environmental laws, pursuing legislative initiatives, and competing for limited water resources are examples of the challenges that our clients face.

Duane Morris attorneys draw from their experience serving as members of agencies, committees, commissions and associations effecting change in water legislation and requirements throughout the country. For example, our Water Practice includes a former general counsel to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, who continues to advise city, county and state public utilities on water issues, and the former Chief of the New York/Caribbean Superfund Branch for the EPA.

Our Water Practice addresses the water rights and supply needs of municipalities, farmers and private water companies and developers. Duane Morris has negotiated contracts with the federal government and the State of California, assisted in the perfection of water transfers to meet dry year needs, assisted with preparation of environmental documentation and drafted state and federal legislation to help water users acquire or maintain a reliable supply of water. We also have a full service practice before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), including hydropower and other energy resources. We routinely defend our clients' water rights and advise them regarding water strategies and relations with their neighboring water agencies. Our practice also includes permitting and regulatory issues such as compliance with CEQA, NEPA, ESA, CWA, and similar laws. In addition we represent clients with CWA discharge issues, including industrial dischargers and POTWs.

Water Rights and Regulation Experience

Project Finance

Our lawyers have been active in project finance transactions for decades. Skilled documentation professionals are teamed with attorneys possessing industry-specific experience in energy, natural resources, environmental management, infrastructure and emerging markets. Together with the support of environmental, tax, public finance, real estate, securities and insurance lawyers, we deliver an integrated capability to financial institutions, sponsors, borrowers, agents, investors and underwriters.

We are listed in the “Red Book” and our project finance attorneys have handled dozens of municipal finance and energy projects, including municipal bond and other forms of project finance. As a result, we can bring to bear both the substantive energy experience and project finance experience to assure that the unique issues pertaining to municipal energy projects are comprehensively and efficiently addressed. This skill set may be of particular interest to companies in the renewable energy sector as they attempt to avail themselves of new loan programs offered by the U.S. Department of Energy and other programs currently being implemented under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

In addition to traditional project finance models, our corporate finance attorneys analyze, structure, negotiate and document a full array of project finance vehicles, off-balance sheet and limited recourse financing, leveraged lease and other structured equipment financing, industrial revenue bond financing, and build-own-operate/build-own-transfer (BOO/BOT) structures. Our attorneys often develop innovative project finance vehicles, such as lease-securitized tax-exempt bond financing and 144A debt offerings.

Long-term projects can sometimes enter a phase where restructuring the financing of the project and/or involved entities is advantageous. Our lawyers routinely represent individual lenders, lending syndicates, agents and borrowers in both “front-end” asset-based loan and other forms of business financing transactions, as well as all types of financial restructuring transactions, including forbearance and/or amendment agreements, refinancing transactions, debt-for-equity swaps, recapitalizations, mergers, acquisitions and divestitures. From simple bilateral transactions involving one lender to syndicated multi-tranche and multi-facility transactions, our transactional lawyers have the knowledge and experience to help our clients get the deal done in a timely manner, regardless of whether court or government supervision is required.

Intellectual Property

The Intellectual Property practice at Duane Morris is recognized as one of the leading IP groups in the United States. National publications such as Intellectual Property Today, IP Law & Business, IP Law Bulletin and IP Law360 have all ranked Duane Morris among the leading law firms handling patents, trademarks, copyrights and related IP litigation. Duane Morris' IP practice includes more than 70 patent attorneys and agents, and more than 18 copyright and trademark attorneys and professionals.

Duane Morris' IP attorneys focus on leveraging our clients' IP to help them achieve success in the marketplace. Technical innovation alone does not ensure commercial success, as evidenced by inventors like Nikola Tesla – who died nearly penniless, despite being referred to by biographers as the patron saint of modern electricity. The legal and business advice of Duane Morris and its affiliates helps our clients realize their potential in a competitive renewable energy market.

Our IP lawyers provide counsel on the most efficacious methods of establishing and developing IP holdings and protecting IP rights so our clients can realize the most value from those assets. From patents to trademarks and copyrights to licensing and technology transfers, to IP audits and IP asset due diligence, our attorneys offer clients portfolio management and strategic advice on obtaining and protecting valuable intellectual property. The firm's IP lawyers represent clients ranging from large multinational corporations to individual inventors, authors and owners of creative works. Duane Morris uses the latest technology to interact with IP-granting government agencies and to provide our clients with real-time access to their IP holdings and dockets.

Collectively, our patent attorneys' experience spans the range of technical issues that our energy clients encounter. Our IP attorneys are trained in chemical engineering, materials science, mechanical and electrical engineering, math, software design, molecular biology, biochemistry, chemistry, and physics, among others. This experience is invaluable in helping our clients to identify and secure IP that will advance their business interests and realize the full value of their assets.

The professionals at Duane Morris endeavor to resolve IP disputes short of litigation. However, when litigation arises, our lawyers are well equipped. Our attorneys have broad and distinguished experience in litigating disputes, including patent disputes relating to cells engineered to produce novel products, and matters involving energy, environmental and commercial laws. Because our firm can team highly experienced litigators and dispute resolution experts with our other professionals, we can avoid separately educating an entire trial team and can staff litigation matters with professionals already familiar with the contested subject area. Combined with our firm's commitment to handle litigated matters in a cost-conscious and commonsense manner, our breadth and depth of experience enables us to resolve many of our clients' disputes both effectively and efficiently.

Our IP attorneys have represented clients on patent matters involving the following technologies:

  • Photovoltaic materials;
  • Oil refining and chemical processing;
  • Hydrogen fuel storage;
  • Synthetic biology, including design and transformation of cultured cells and lipid biochemistry;
  • Bioreactor design and fermentation; and
  • Plant biology, including harvesting and processing of algae.

Corporate Structure and Tax Planning

At Duane Morris, our Corporate attorneys are experienced in developing and implementing creative strategies to help maximize value and position our clients as advantageously as possible, whether they are a buyer, a seller, lender or intermediary. We regularly guide both early-stage and mature companies through challenging periods, whether negotiated acquisition, divestiture, or maintaining shareholder value in challenging economic times.

The Tax Practice Group is an integral part of the firm's transactional practice and a critical component of our service to clients focused on the tax and accounting-related benefits associated with most renewable energy and sustainability investments. We work closely with our renewable energy and business lawyers to structure and effectuate complex transactions from a tax perspective to better fit our client's business objectives. We also maintain an independent tax practice that focuses on public and private domestic and foreign business entities (corporations, partnerships and limited liability companies), private clients and tax-exempt organizations, including federal, state and local tax controversy matters for all of the foregoing.

Real Estate

Duane Morris' real estate team concentrates on all aspects of real estate law, and we have a broad background in the real estate industry. Our lawyers have worked as registered architects, licensed mortgage brokers, certified public accountants and licensed real estate agents. We are actively involved in the same groups and associations as our clients, such as the Urban Land Institute, Mortgage Bankers Association, community development corporations, various homebuilders' and professional associations and many other groups.

These activities are important for our clients who turn to us for both our understanding of the real estate industry, as well as for practical legal advice and counsel. For example, we have assisted many of our clients in structuring transactions and decreasing their liability, as well as in developing models that create or increase project revenue. Our clients include investors, corporations, developers, asset management firms, insurance companies, title companies, construction companies, property owners, financial institutions, communities and public agencies. We consistently find solutions for complex real estate issues.

Private Equity/Venture Capital

Duane Morris attorneys have extensive experience representing private equity funds, investment banks, financial institutions, foundations and individual investors in connection with their legal needs. Our private equity clients range from large institutional funds and corporate investors to individual angel investors, so we have developed a significant breadth and depth of experience with the varied transactional, regulatory and business issues arising in connection with fund formations, investments, portfolio management and M&A.

Our venture capital group has served as counsel to numerous venture capital funds and companies who are venture backed or seeking venture investment and has considerable experience in structuring venture capital and other equity and mezzanine investments. We advise our clients in all aspects of their businesses, including intellectual property, contracts, transactions, tax, international operations and regulatory issues. We are actively involved with our clients and have helped numerous companies raise venture capital financing.

Public Policy & Government Affairs

Duane Morris Government Strategies (DMGS), a wholly owned affiliate of the firm, works at all levels of government regarding new green initiatives and sustainability efforts. By broadening your network of contacts, DMGS provides clients with the foundation to impact proposed legislation and access regulatory agencies and the executive branch of government. Your concerns will be heard and given due consideration by the legislators, regulatory agencies and government officials who affect your business. DMGS develops short and long-term strategic plans to heighten client visibility, and assists clients in managing and implementing those plans.

The principals of DMGS have backgrounds in both government and industry. They offer practical, hands-on experience at all levels of government, coupled with leadership and management skills honed over time in the private sector. DMGS provides government relations and lobbying services to corporations, trade associations, and non-profit organizations. They understand the effect professional advocacy and public affairs programs can have on a diverse range of entities, from start-ups to multi-million dollar corporations. With DMGS' background in the private sector, they also are sensitive to the urgencies clients face as they manage their business in today's fast-paced business, legislative and regulatory environment.

For More Information

For additional information, please contact Thomas M. Berliner or any of the group members referenced in the Attorney Listing.