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Public Utilities and Telecommunications Litigation

Calfee’s Public Utility and Telecommunications group is structured and operated in a manner that recognizes that utility issues significantly impact the communities served by our clients and therefore have fundamental governmental implications. Our attorneys operate in concert with the firm’s Government Relations and Legislation group. This team approach allows us to achieve timely results that meet our clients’ immediate, strategic and long-run needs. We represent service providers such as local telephone and cellular telecommunications carriers, electric utilities and CATV operators, as well as municipal, business and educational consumer organizations.

We recognize that our clients’ issues are best served when regulators, elected officials and their staffs are fully informed. Our attorneys frequently engage in litigation before regulatory agencies and courts defending utility clients against competitors and consumer groups. Accordingly, we make our clients’ views and concerns known to and understood by regulatory and elected decision makers at all levels through both formal advocacy and lobbying efforts. We use our broad governmental, financial, corporate, litigation and public law experience to provide innovative, business-oriented solutions to the complex issues that our clients must confront in a time of unprecedented competition and deregulation.

Public utilities operate in both a regulated and unregulated environment. Our team approach, which combines aggressive litigation with government relations lobbying, assures our clients’ messages are received and understood by key governmental decision makers. The diversity of our attorneys’ skills allows us to provide sound advice that takes into account the interplay of often competing governmental and economic forces.

With the advent of deregulation, are utilities subject to potential penalties from regulatory agencies?

Yes. Even though various aspects of utility regulation have been subject to reduced regulation, utilities remain subject to possible penalties and treble damages if their rates or services are found unreasonable or inadequate.

Do utilities pay for their use and occupancy of the public right of way?

Utilities generally have been seen as providing essential services to the public. Therefore, these fees or rentals traditionally have not been imposed. As municipalities seek to maintain existing and provide additional services to residents without imposing tax increases, efforts to control and impose fees for use of right-of-ways will become more common. Utilities must proactively confront such efforts or be ready to pass on such fees to their customers in the municipality.

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