Growing concerns about climate change have led to efforts to promote clean and renewable sources of energy at the federal, state and local levels. As a result, governments themselves, as well as public institutions, have been working to become more “green” and develop creative energy and infrastructure solutions that make economic sense. The lawyers at Drinker Biddle work extensively with governments, colleges, universities and other public institutions to pursue infrastructure, sustainability and energy projects.
Colleges and Universities
A growing number of colleges and universities across the country have made sustainability a campus-wide priority, with many embracing the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. Under this initiative, institutions are challenged to develop and implement carbon-neutral action plans that include policies and procedures for inventorying and reducing emissions with targeted deadlines and periodic reporting on progress.
We have worked with colleges and universities on a variety of strategies to achieve these goals, including greater use of emerging technologies in wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and waste fuels. Further, we have helped institutions launch carbon offset projects in forestry and methane destruction as well as implement innovative solutions for heating and cooling, reducing electricity consumption. Our team has also counseled clients on the development of cleaner, more efficient transportation systems. We advise university clients on how to manage their total energy demand as an asset and help them explore water and wastewater treatment options that help to conserve water, among a suite of other sustainability initiatives.
Our energy lawyers have experience coordinating a variety of public-private and profit-nonprofit partnerships that allow colleges and universities to avail themselves of tax credits and other government incentives designed to encourage renewable energy, energy efficiency, and responsible water and land management practices. Partnering with private organizations can reduce costs to universities and share risk while allowing them to benefit from their partners’ technical skills, experience and other resources. Colleges and universities may also benefit by partnering with one another in shared purchasing consortia.
Governments play two roles in the energy sector. They act as energy users, purchasing energy for use, and they are also involved as regulators promoting new energy strategies for citizens, business and institutions in their jurisdiction. Drinker Biddle lawyers are experienced in working with governments as energy users, as they deal with sometimes cumbersome procurement rules and bidding processes. We can assist governments in forming entities such as purchasing co-ops to take advantage of less restrictive procurement standards. Our lawyers are experienced in counseling governments on regulatory design and process. We have helped pen some of the most significant energy and environmental legislation and regulation of the last decade.
Our lawyers have extensive experience in tax-exempt finance and in crafting solutions to fund green infrastructure through partnerships that shift risk away from our government clients and take advantage of tax credits and other incentives. For more than 25 years, our lawyers have worked on behalf of clients to forge public-private partnerships in the energy sector.
In addition, we have experience working with the energy service company (ESCO) model. Many states have adopted guaranteed energy savings legislation that specifically permits state and local governments to enter into ESCO contracts and provides specific guidelines in order to do so. Drinker Biddle has advised government clients on how to use the ESCO model and work within the financing programs that sometimes accompany ESCO legislation.
Several states have formed agencies to promote sustainable energy use, with some cities and municipalities following suit. Drinker Biddle lawyers have worked closely with such agencies, helping them to operate and oversee programs that deliver renewable energy services and energy savings to households and businesses.