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Utilities Law

Poyner Spruill has a vigorous utilities law practice, representing a variety of private utilities, including water and wastewater companies, electric providers, and telephone companies. The utilities practice group has significant experience before the North Carolina Utilities Commission and other administrative agencies. Our attorneys maintain productive working relationships with utilities regulators in an effort to minimize adversarial proceedings and obtain positive client outcome while minimizing litigation expense.

The group routinely assists clients with:

Utility Rate Case Proceedings 
We represent private utility companies on utility rate increase applications before the North Carolina Utilities Commission, and are experienced in navigating the rate case process. 

Utility Acquisition and Divestments

We represent parties in negotiating transactions for the purchase, sale, and merger of private utility companies or their assets, and obtaining regulatory approvals for such transactions. Our attorneys also have experience in obtaining regulatory authorization for new utility companies, such as certificates for public convenience and necessity.

Permit, Compliance and Zoning Disputes 
Our attorneys represent various utilities in permitting and zoning proceedings before state regulators and local governments. We also represent utilities in compliance and enforcement proceedings before North Carolina commissions, agencies, and superior court.

Water and Wastewater 
We regularly advise water and wastewater utilities on rules governing water and sewer service promulgated by the North Carolina Utilities Commission and related environmental rules and ordinances under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and local governments.  This includes representing wastewater utilities in environmental enforcement proceedings, including citizen suits.  We also have represented several local governments who provide water in inter-basin water transfer proceedings.  Attorneys also represent commercial and residential developers in negotiating contracts for the provision of water and sewer services.

Renewable Energy and Conservation

Our attorneys advise clients with respect to compliance with the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards (REPS), water conservation, and related rules promulgated by the North Carolina Utilities Commission. We represent clients in REPS compliance proceedings and rulemaking dockets before the NCUC and in negotiations for the purchase and sale of renewable energy credits (RECs).  As environmental concerns remain at the forefront of national policy, water allocation, wastewater disposal and reuse, net-metering, alternative energy sources, energy trading and energy credits will produce significant state and national regulation. Our attorneys actively monitor developing regulations to allow us to provide current, effective advice for navigating the ever-changing regulatory regime. 

Electric
Our attorneys also represent electric power suppliers in negotiating purchased power agreements.  We represent electric power suppliers and municipal clients in REPs compliance proceedings before the North Carolina Utilities Commission.  We also advise electric power suppliers and municipal clients on various electric issues, including service territory, wholesale power sales, electric reliability and environmental compliance.

Gas 
Poyner Spruill has advised and represented clients with respect to gas pipeline transmission, gas transportation, gas safety issues and environmental compliance for natural gas, propane and other gas products. Our attorneys have represented clients before the North Carolina Utilities Commission with respect to compliance with rules governing natural gas and other piped gas and obtainment of certificates of public convenience and necessity for various gas projects.

Telephone
 
We have advised telecommunication companies with respect to the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and the transition from regulated to competitive markets. They have represented both incumbent local exchange companies and competing local providers.

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