Jonathan LA Phillips, Attorney at Law
Illinois IP Attorney

Utility and energy law

Helping landowners with energy infrastructure issues

What is utility & Energy law?

Public utilities serve most people in Illinois. Ameren, ComEd, municipalities, and local cooperatives provide our electricity. Ameren, NICOR, and others provide us with natural gas. Numerous other utilities serve us for these and other purposes like water, waste water, telecommunications, and pipelines. The law governing these utilities is specific and separate from other laws. In fact, the Illinois Public Utilities Act is one of the longest statutes in Illinois. Additionally, most utility issues begin at the Illinois Commerce Commission, not a courthouse. Jonathan Phillips is well versed with both the Public Utilities Act and procedures and practice at the Illinois Commerce Commission. Whether you have an issue with a proposed electric transmission line, a pipeline, damage to an underground facility, wind farm, or solar farm, or a general complaint about your utility provider, Jonathan can help.

While unique issues arise in utility practice, there are some commonly repeating issues for landowners. If you face one of these issues, you should seek representation from an attorney with understanding of the Public Utilities Act, practice at the Illinois Commerce Commission, the Administrative Code concerning Commerce Commission practice, and other laws. Jonathan Phillips has that knowledge.

Transmission line and pipeline approval and routing

Ameren, Commonwealth Edison, and others rely on transmission lines to move large amounts of electric power from one location to another location. Both major utilities have been active in expanding their transmission infrastructure. Similarly, any number of pipeline companies are building new pipelines or replacing old ones. When seeking to build a transmission line or pipeline, the utilities must gain the Illinois Commerce Commission’s approval for both the project and its routing. Jonathan is well-versed in opposing projects as a whole, rerouting them, or defending against other landowner’s attempts to route onto his clients’ land.

Easements

Pipelines, transmission lines, power lines, and other infrastructure requires land. Most of the time the company building the infrastructure negotiates easements with landowners. Jonathan has negotiated dozens of easements for these infrastructure projects.

Eminent Domain

However, some people do not want to negotiate an easement. So, when utilities cannot obtain land by easement, they often try to condemn property. This may involve proceedings at the Commerce Commission. It will involve proceedings at a Court. Jonathan can help you with both stages and either oppose eminent domain or seek a better deal during the proceedings.

Wind and Solar Farm Development

Wind turbines and solar farms have their own set of issues that many attorneys may not be familiar with. Long term leases and easements, tax treatment, costs of deconstruction, zoning boards, local ordinances, and other intricacies provide challenges that go beyond the run-of-the-mill land sale or lease. Jonathan Phillips is able to assist with these matters.

Utility Bill Disputes

Sometimes you may dispute your utility bill. You may believe the rates are unjust or discriminatory. Many of these disputes are resolved at the Illinois Commerce Commission. For municipal utilities, they may be resolved at the Circuit Court. Either way, Jonathan has the experience to put on your best case . disputes about utility bills.

Successes in utility law

Jonathan has helped achieve successful results for utility clients.

  • Jonathan represented a Peoria-area mobile home park in a lawsuit against the Village of Creve Couer concerning alleged discriminatory pricing policies. A new ordinance was going to double the water bill for his client. After filing a motion for a temporary restraining order followed by negotiations, his client and the Village settled the matter on terms agreeable to his client. Moreover, while negotiations were pending, his client did not pay any increased rate.

  • In the Rock Island Clean Line case, Jonathan represented over 300 landowners with interests in over 100,000 acres from the Mississippi River to Grundy County, Illinois. At the Illinois Commerce Commission, he and others, including the Illinois Farm Bureau and ComEd, successfully persuaded the Commission to deny Rock Island’s requested Section 8-503 authority. After a series of appeals, the Illinois Supreme Court determined that Rock Island did not meet the requirements of a “public utility” under the Illinois Public Utilities Act in a unanimous decision. The project was defeated.

  • In the Ameren Spoon River transmission line case, Jonathan represented approximately a dozen landowners spread along Ameren’s preferred route. His team persuaded the Commission to use a wholly different route – an alternate route with his developed routing adjustment – over objections from Ameren, another landowner group, and Commerce Commission Staff.

  • In the ComEd Grand Prairie Gateway transmission line case, Jonathan represented a several historic property owners near a railroad. Their neighbors sought to re-route the proposed transmission line along our clients’ properties. Jonathan and his firm successfully persuaded the Illinois Commerce Commission to deny that routing adjustment and protected the clients’ interests.

  • In the Ameren Illinois Rivers series of cases, Jonathan was part of a team that rerouted transmission lines from client’s property.

  • Jonathan has represented numerous clients in easement negotiations for its transmission projects. In doing so, he secured increased compensation and more favorable easement terms.

Do you have a utility or energy law issue?

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