Utilities

Utilities

The utility and critical infrastructure industry faces transformation and challenges from a broad range of issues — grid modifications, cybersecurity, system upgrades and replacements, reliability and infrastructure protection, and access to spectrum, as well as changes in the traditional joint-use environment and an increasing demand for collocation and joint-use for fiber and wireless communications equipment. At the same time, new opportunities now exist for collaborating with state and local jurisdictions and communications service providers in broadband network deployment.

Lerman Senter works with utilities, critical infrastructure operators, equipment manufacturers, and vendors to help clients thrive in this changing landscape and fulfill their core mission of providing essential services to the public. With decades in this highly specialized area, we have the knowledge, experience, and expertise to advise and assist our clients. We welcome you to contact us for more information about our Utilities practice.

Lerman Senter’s comprehensive, specialized Utilities practice includes these services:

Spectrum

  • Assisting with acquisition of spectrum to support utility operations through frequency coordination, FCC licensing procedures, and spectrum auctions
  • Negotiating spectrum purchase/sale and spectrum lease agreements
  • Advising on laws and regulations that govern how utilities may obtain and use different spectrum bands that may be available for private internal use

Pole Attachments and Joint Use

  • Negotiating agreements on behalf of utilities for attachment of equipment to utility poles and conduit by telecommunications providers, wireless carriers, cable operators, and other entities
  • Representing utilities in pole attachment cases before the FCC and in federal and state courts
  • Advising utilities on federal and state legislative activity affecting utility infrastructure
  • Counseling clients with respect to their street light collocation programs, and negotiating commercial rates, terms, and conditions for 4G and 5G deployments
  • Assisting utilities in effectively managing new wireless attachments (small cells, DAS, etc.)
  • Representing utilities in pole attachment complaint cases before the FCC and state regulatory commissions, and private arbitration and mediation proceedings, and litigate cases on behalf of utilities in federal and state courts

Regulatory

  • Advising utilities on legal and regulatory issues involved in becoming broadband providers
  • Representing multiple investor-owned electric utility companies in regulatory proceedings on wireline and wireless infrastructure deployment and pole attachment matters
  • Advocating on behalf of utilities in rulemaking proceedings before the FCC and state utility commissions
  • Counseling clients in proceedings before the FCC, state utility commissions, and other agencies

Transactions and Public/Private Partnerships

  • Counseling clients with respect to the structure and terms of multi-party broadband deployment projects, and negotiating development agreements, and IRU and lease agreements for dark and lit fiber
  • Representing multiple investor-owned electric utility companies in structuring, negotiating, and implementing fiber and wireless network deployment projects
  • Advising clients on federal, state, and local funding opportunities for broadband deployment projects

Other Operational Issues

  • Providing advice on RF exposure and safety laws and regulations governing wireless equipment deployed on utility infrastructure
  • Assisting clients with federal cybersecurity and privacy laws and regulations that apply to owners and operators of critical infrastructure
  • Counseling clients on laws and regulations regarding the use of drones for critical infrastructure asset management
  • Advising clients on communications-related laws and issues affecting other aspects of utilities’ core business and operations, including TCPA, TSR, and CAN-SPAM
  • Advising equipment manufacturers on equipment authorization, marketing, and importation issues


Representative Matters

  • Represented a trade association of investor-owned utilities in filing an amicus curiae brief with the United States Supreme Court in support of an appeal of the Federal Communications Commission’s pole attachment rules
  • Assisted electric utilities in negotiating agreements for small cell deployments on electric distribution poles and infrastructure
  • Assisted a utility with a major upgrade of its communications system, including obtaining FCC licensing approvals for an integrated statewide radio system, cross-border frequency coordination, waivers to utilize frequencies for private use, and demonstrating compliance with construction requirements
  • Assisted a utility with obtaining approvals from the Federal Aviation Administration for construction of new and modified towers, and wireless communications facilities, under the FCC’s environmental and historic preservation review
  • Assisted a utility with purchasing spectrum through an FCC auction and obtaining a waiver from the FCC to incorporate frequencies into its private, internal radio system
  • Represented various electric utilities in proceedings before the FCC and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regarding utility communications needs
  • Represented electric utilities in pole attachment complaint proceedings before the FCC Enforcement Bureau and in a formal hearing proceeding

Key Clients

Southern Company, Xcel Energy, Dominion Energy

“Our team members have years of experience in this very specialized practice area. That’s important. It means we can help utilities manage issues only they face.”

— David D. Rines, Member