Thursday, September 11, 2014

Gregory Eisenstark, Michael Connolly at Windels Marx

Windels Marx has announced that Gregory Eisenstark has joined the firm as Partner, resident in the New Brunswick, NJ office. Joining him is Michael J. Connolly as Special Counsel, resident in the Madison, NJ office.

Both lawyers bring with them significant experience in energy and utility matters, including prominent roles at Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) and GPU Service, Inc., respectively.

Anthony R. Coscia, who leads the firm's Infrastructure Development and Finance Practice Group, said, "Clients across the Northeast are facing unprecedented challenges as a result of aging infrastructure, vulnerable energy and utility assets from recent catastrophic weather events, an increased regulatory environment, and competition from alternative energy sources. Greg and Michael's experience will be instrumental to our Infrastructure clients as they meet these challenges head on."

The Infrastructure Development and Finance Practice Group represents sponsors, investors, financiers, governments and others -- on both routine and complex projects across many sectors and industries, including energy, as well as aviation and airports, surface transport, maritime, water, waste, and cultural, sports, entertainment and public facilities.

Gregory Eisenstark
Prior to joining Windels Marx, Mr. Eisenstark was Senior Counsel in the energy practice group of Morgan Lewis. Before that, he served as Associate General Regulatory Counsel for Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG), where he represented PSEG's operating companies in regulatory matters before the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, other state utility commissions, and in state and federal courts.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Eisenstark was Managing Attorney - Electric for the New Jersey Division of Ratepayer Advocate, where he represented utility customers in matters before regulatory agencies and courts. In that position, Mr. Eisenstark played an active role in the transformation of the PJM Interconnection from a power pool to an independent system operator. Before that, Mr. Eisenstark was a Deputy Attorney General of New Jersey, where he represented the Board of Public Utilities and Department of Environmental Protection in utility and solid waste industry matters.

Mr. Eisenstark earned his J.D. from Rutgers University School of Law - Newark and his B.A. in biology from Oberlin College. Mr. Eisenstark is admitted to practice in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York, and before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. He has spoken on energy and utility issues for the New Jersey Institute of Continuing Legal Education, the New Jersey State Bar Association, and at other industry conferences. He has also been a guest lecturer on utility rate issues at Rutgers University School of Law and Seton Hall University School of Law.

Michael Connolly focuses his practice on state and federal public utility law,
Michael Connolly
energy policy, and energy- and utility-related transactions. In addition, he advises clients on general corporate business and compliance issues, as well as on related transactions.

Prior to Windels Marx, he was Counsel at Morgan Lewis in the Energy Practice Group. In addition to his private practice, he served as Vice President for Law at GPU Service, Inc., (including energy companies such as Jersey Central Power & Light, Metropolitan Edison Company, and Pennsylvania Electric Company before it merged with FirstEnergy Corp.), where he was responsible for the legal and claims departments of the aforementioned companies, and provided guidance regarding their legal needs.

Mr. Connolly earned his J.D. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1981, where he received the Taintor Memorial Award for Conflicts of Law. He earned an M.Ed. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Education in 1976 and his B.A. from Cathedral College in 1974.

Mr. Connolly is a member of the Edison Electric Institute's Legal Committee, the American Corporate Counsel Association, the New Jersey Bar Association, and the American Bar Association. He is also Vice-Chair and Member, Legal Advisory Committee, of Nuclear Electric Insurance, Ltd., and the Former Editor of the Berks County Law Journal. He is admitted to practice in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Signs of new life (and jobs) returning to Fort Monmouth

















In 2005, the Pentagon announced its decision to cut costs buy transferring operations from New Jersey's Fort Monmouth military base to Maryland. The shutdown, completed in 2011, resulted in the loss of 5,000 jobs on the base and also affected an estimated 15,000 off base.


Since then, most of the sprawling 1,100 acre facility that spans three towns — Oceanport, Tinton Falls and Eatontown--has remained empty, weed-grown and without contracts for redevelopment. 

"But today, nearly a decade later, some parts of the base are beginning to buzz. Construction is underway in the Tinton Falls section. New buildings are going up and a more manicured landscape is taking shape," reports NJTV News correspondent Christie Duffy.  

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Enviros claim NJ lost out on millions by exiting RGGI

                                                                                             Watchdog.org graphic
New Jersey could have reaped $114 million for clean energy projects had Governor Christie not yanked the state almost three years ago from a multi-state program designed to reduce greenhouse gases, claims a report released by an environmental advocacy group today.

Scott Fallon writes in The Record:

"The report comes as the Christie administration is finalizing its formal withdrawal from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, known as RGGI, after environmental groups had lobbied intensely this summer for the governor to reconsider.

"We wanted to put some more firm numbers on what New Jersey is losing out on if it is not part of this program," said Doug O'Malley of Environment New Jersey, which released the report in conjunction with Environment Northeast. "This is the real-world cost of leaving RGGI."

Fallon quotes Kevin Roberts, a spokesman for Christie, saying that RGGI "amounted to nothing more than a tax on business" and "failed to achieve its goals of lowering the use of carbon emissions and creating green jobs."

"RGGI was formed more than a decade ago by 10 Eastern states to curb the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from power companies. The gas works like a blanket to trap heat in the atmosphere, which increases air and ocean temperatures, melts polar ice, raises sea levels and produces more intense storms. Sea levels have risen along the New Jersey coast about a foot and a half over the past century and are expected to rise another foot by 2050.

"Under RGGI, power companies must buy credits for every ton of carbon their plants emit while generating electricity. RGGI has raised $1.8 billion for the states, including $113 million for New Jersey before Christie pulled out.

"In its report, Environment Northeast says New Jersey is projected to forgo an additional $387 million from now until 2020 if it does not rejoin RGGI.

The report touted several clean energy projects that New Jersey's RGGI money helped fund, including a solar panel system at William Paterson University that was said to be the largest ever built at an institute of higher learning. It also said that Christie diverted $75 million of RGGI revenue slated for clean energy projects to balance the state budget in 2010.

SCR-125, a resolution that challenges the legitimacy of the state's withdrawal from RGGI will be heard in Trenton on Monday at 10 a.m. in the Senate Environment and Energy Committee. The committee will meet in Room 10, Third Floor, State Houses Annex.

Read the full story here 

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Politicians march into the Battle of the Philly Port Titans

In today's Philadelphia Inquirer, Linda Loyd sends a dispatch from the front lines where forces are being marshaled for the 'Battle of the Port Titans.'

"Two prominent marine-terminal operators with big stakes in the Delaware River each want to manage and control some of the 200 acres known as Southport, at the eastern end of the Navy Yard, south of the Walt Whitman Bridge.
"Vying for the millions of dollars in business opportunities that could result: John Brown Jr., president of Penn Warehousing and Distribution Inc., a paper-import company that operates from Piers 38 and 40 and 78 and 80, who also runs Murphy Marine Services at the Port of Wilmington; and the Holt family, whose companies operate the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal and Gloucester Terminals L.L.C. in Gloucester City.
Vincent J. Fumo: "I wrote the law on the PRPA."
Here's where it gets interesting-enter the politicians

"Brown said he had hired former state Sen. Vincent J. Fumo, a longtime family friend, to advise him in his Southport efforts. He did so, Brown said, after learning that the Holts had been trying to team up with an energy company to develop Southport without an open bid process, known as a request-for-proposals (RFP).   

Listen to this quote from tough-guy Vince Fumo

"As a senator, I wrote the law on the PRPA," Fumo said. "I'm very familiar with its powers, its duties. I've represented the waterfront for 31 years. I know it inside out. And I will bet you this deal will not go down as envisioned by Corbett and his henchmen. How I do it, and what advice I give to do it, and who I direct to do it, is my business and my client's business. I'm not going to give you proprietary information on how I work."


The Holts have there own political fire power. The story, which is just unfolding, should be great fun to watch.

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Four NJ towns consider pooling their power purchases


A 2003 New Jersey law allows municipalities, either individually or in tandem, to pursue cost saving by pooling customers and buying in bulk from a third-party, non-utility producer of electricity. Four towns in Mercer County are thinking about joining together to do just that.


"Ewing, Hopewell Township, Lawrence and West Windsor, boasting a combined population of about 115,000 people, could achieve electricity cost savings by participating in “energy aggregation,” Brendan McGrath reports in the Times of Trenton.

At 7 p.m. on Sept. 18, the four towns will host a public information session at the Mercer County Community College conference center in West Windsor. An energy aggregation consultant will give a presentation and public officials will be in attendance.

Read the full story here

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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Big player in New Jersey recycling closes its doors

A prominent Clifton-based recycling company abruptly closed its doors on Friday, informing more than 100 employees that they had worked their final day while dozens of North Jersey towns scrambled to forge temporary arrangements with other collectors, The Record reports.

Green Sky Industries, which promoted itself as the state’s largest private recycler with 75 municipal contracts, many in Bergen and Passaic counties, announced in a letter to towns on Thursday that it was shutting both of its plants, in Clifton and Carteret in Middlesex County. The company’s Clifton employees on Friday were given their final paychecks and a note on a quarter sheet of paper that explained the closure as a result of “declining business conditions.”
Green Sky workers being told that the recycling plant is closing.
CARMINE GALASSO/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
James Escudero, 61, of Paterson after the news.

Richard Biondi II, the operations manager, said he learned about the closure early Friday. He paced back and forth outside of an office, sweat running down his face, before he went to break the news to the plant’s 76 workers at the end of their shift.

“I’m fighting back the tears,” he said.

After the announcement, office manager Mary Baez walked to her car with her niece Nilda Quinones, an office clerk. Tears welled in her eyes as she searched for the white paper slip that told her that time had ended.

“We regret the suddenness of this decision and thank you greatly for your service to the company,” the note said.

Company executives did not return emails or phone calls seeking comment on Friday. The closure was preceded by other layoffs, late payments to some towns and complications with China, a major importer of recyclables that last year rejected large quantities of material from U.S. companies because they contained too much regular trash.

Green Sky was a proponent of “single stream” recycling that permits residents to combine paper, cardboard, glass, aluminum and plastic into one container, rather than separating them. The process is designed to entice more residents to participate in recycling, and has become popular in Bergen County in recent years.

The Chinese crackdown, called the “green fence,” put financial pressure on companies such as Green Sky that purchased shipments from towns, separated the waste and then sold it to China. 

The company’s closing will come at a cost for several towns in Bergen and Passaic counties, where officials searched for alternative collectors in a hurry. Westwood’s borough administrator, Bob Hoffman, said the borough already had made arrangements with a company it contracts with to pick up recycling. But that outfit pays less for the materials than Green Sky, he said.


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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Another effect of (hic) climate change?

Are longer, colder, snowier winters encouraging us to adopt Nordic drinking habits?

The New York Governor's office reports that the number of breweries, wineries and cideries
in the state has doubled over the past three years--growing from 205 to 410.


















The number of microbreweries has increased from 40 in 2011 to 104 this year.
The state also has 57 new farm breweries and nearly 100 new farm wineries.

Climate change's role?  



It makes sense. You may not have power or a backup generator, but you can stock up on schnapps to help get you through the dark and frigid nights.


And, if alcohol consumption follows climate change, imagine what it will do to birth rates.

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Two good stories on Pa fracking and NJ flooding

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Two good stories on Pa fracking and NJ flooding

Here are two stories that you might have missed in the past few days that deserve attention.

natural gas blue flame

In Fracking takes toll in Pennsylvania, but New Jersey gets bargain, The Record's
James M. O'Neil writes:


"The recent boom in natural gas drilling across Pennsylvania has turned some property owners into millionaires. It also has forced some rural communities there to endure swaths of denuded forest, fumes from diesel engines, the rattle of equipment, midnight skies lit up by the lights for well pads, spills of dangerous wastewater, and the leak of explosive methane into their drinking water wells.

"One state away, New Jersey residents have enjoyed significant benefits from the gas being mined from the Marcellus Shale Formation through fracking. With  an abundance of gas on the market, New Jerseyans have seen significant drops in the price of gas to heat their homes and cook their food – price cuts that are likely to continue this winter. And many coal-fired power plants in the Midwest have switched to natural gas, which has improved the air quality downwind in New Jersey."

O'Neil goes on to highlight the benefits and downsides of the fracking boom in both states.

Read the full story here

********************************************************************************************************


In Problems with repetitive flooding mean recurring losses for inland New Jersey, NJ Public Radio reporter Scott Gurian creates both an audio and written story (for NJ Spotlight) on a complicated problem that has no easy answers.


It is the repetitive flooding in New Jersey towns far from the shore communities that drew most of the attention in the wake of Hurricane Sandy



This eye-opening paragraph gives you an idea of how big a problem repetitive flooding is:

 
"Since most homeowners living in these areas are insured through the National Flood Insurance Program, this ends up costing taxpayers, who until now have been forced to subsidize residents to repair houses that continually flood. According to claims data supplied by FEMA, one condominium building in Kearny, for example, has filed 30 separate claims over the past 36 years totaling more than $5.3 million in pay-outs. Another, single-family home in River Vale is listed as having filed 16 flood insurance claims, adding up to $1.3 million, while a home in Pompton Lakes has flooded 20 times over the years."

Read the full story here  


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NJ taxpayers came up craps on Revel casino. Right?

Win a grant to help switch your Pa. fleet to natural gas 
The rebirth (we sure hope) of the famed Rutgers tomato

Trenton to Newark: Paddler finishes 9-day eco-journey


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

NJ taxpayers came up craps on Revel casino. Right?

                                                             Aaron Houston photo
Actually, no.

The common belief is that New Jersey took a sucker bet on the $2.4 billion Revel Casino and lost big. (The casino spun its last roulette wheel minutes before going belly today at 5 a.m.)

But, it turns out that the state never paid out a penny of the $261.3 million Economic Redevelopment and Growth tax credit awarded to the project by the state Economic Development Authority in 2011.  

NJBIZ's Andrew George offers this quote today from Tim Lizura, EDA president and chief operating officer:

“To be clear, Revel has not received one penny of its ERG award,” said  “These incentives have built-in safeguards to ensure taxpayer money is used responsibly. Before receiving any of their approved award, projects must first generate new tax revenue, complete capital investments and/or hire or retain employees.”


Read the full story here  

Related news stories: 

It Used to Be a World-Renowned Gambling Resort
Atlantic City's gambling industry woes continue with closure ...
Revel casino goes dark after just 2 years - KOTV.com 
Inside the $2 Billion Bust: Atlantic City's Big Bet, the Revel Casino, Closes 



Friday, August 29, 2014

Win a grant to help switch your Pa. fleet to natural gas


Pennsylvania opens its third round of Natural Gas Vehicle grants tomorrow, Aug. 30.
The grants will provide an estimated $6 million to help pay for the incremental purchase
and conversion costs of heavy-duty natural gas fleet vehicles.

Since 2013, the state Department of Environmental Protection says it has awarded $14 million to 44 organizations and companies making the switch to compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG), and bi-fuel vehicles weighing 14,000 pounds or more.

Those eligible to apply include non-profit organizations, local transportation organizations, state owned or state related universities, commonwealth or municipal authorities, for-profit companies and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.
 
Requests can be no more than 50 percent of the incremental purchase or retrofit cost per vehicle, with a maximum total of $25,000 per vehicle.

Grant applications are due by 4 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 14, and will be awarded this winter.

Eligible applicants are encouraged to participate in a related webinar, scheduled for
Sept. 22, from 2 to 3 p.m.

To register for the webinar and view the updated guidance document and online grant application, visit www.dep.state.pa.us and click on the “Natural Gas Vehicle Grant Program” button.

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