2009 News

2009 News

CWPB Facilitates Acquisition of Wind Energy Facility

On behalf of Emerging Energies of Wisconsin, LLC, CWPB successfully completed the sale of a controlling interest in the Shirley Wind Project in the Town of Glenmore, near Green Bay. The project will feature eight state-of-the-art 2.5-megawatt Nordex N100 turbines and produce 64 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, supplying enough energy for approximately 8,000 homes.

CWPB 2, Dirty Coal 0

CWPB continues to rack up victories in environmental litigation. Earlier this month, Kentucky’s Energy Secretary issued a Final Order prohibiting Kentucky Mountain Power from building a coal plant on its property in Knott County, Kentucky, without obtaining a new permit under current environmental laws. The Secretary found that a prior permit, issued when the environmental laws were less stringent, had expired. CWPB represented the Sierra Club in that case, which opposed the building of the plant.

In another case handled for the Sierra Club, CWPB secured an award of $475,000 against EnviroPower and Khanjee Holding, after the United States Supreme Court declined an appeal of a lower court’s finding that the two companies violated the Clean Air Act by proposing to construct a power plant in Benton, Illinois without the required permit. The award includes a $100,000 fine, to be paid to two Habitat for Humanity programs in the Benton area. The balance of the award is attorney’s fees and costs associated with winning the case. December 2009.

Bach Again Honored as Top of the Top

The annual listing of Wisconsin Super Lawyers and Rising Stars is out, and Steve Bach, who practices Family Law, was again honored among the top 50 Wisconsin Super Lawyers, all practices. Nearly half of CWPB attorneys join him on this year’s lists, published by Milwaukee Magazine. Only five percent of the lawyers in the state are chosen for inclusion in the Super Lawyers list. CWPB attorneys honored in the 2009 Super Lawyers list, and the practice areas in which they are honored, are: Attorney Lester Pines ( General Litigation), Attorney Steve Bach ( Family Law), and Attorney Jordan Loeb ( Criminal Defense). November 2009.

Pines Receives NAACP Award

On October 2, at its annual Freedom Fund Banquet, Lester Pines received the Harry & Velma Hamilton Branch Service Award from the NAACP, Madison Branch for his “steadfast and exemplary volunteer efforts serving the Greater Madison Community.” October 2009.

CWPB Protects Local Phone Company

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin today denied the complaint of AT&T against Northern Telephone & Data regarding its charges to AT&T to connect calls to local phone customers. NTD is a small, Wisconsin phone company. Attorney

If granted, the complaint would have had an anti-competitive effect. AT&T would have succeeded in reducing the revenues of one of its competitors, NTD, making it more difficult for NTD to serve its customers as well as to invest and keep jobs in the community. At the same time, NTD would still have had to pay AT&T substantial sums of money just to lease parts of AT&T’s network to provide service to its customers. September 2009.

Siting Standards Achieved

The state legislature this month gave final approval to a major reform in Wisconsin’s wind siting laws. The coalition included leading business, labor, farm, environmental and wind energy interests. Passage in the Senate was 23 to 9; in the Assembly, 65 to 31. Governor Doyle is expected to sign the measure into law. September 2009.

Worker Rights Class Action Lawsuit

Attorney Tamara Packard has filed a class action lawsuit against an area company for forcing its employees to take certain breaks without pay, in violation of Wisconsin wage and hours laws. Under Wisconsin law, breaks of fewer than 30 minutes are legally considered “work time,” and employers must pay their employees for those breaks. The lawsuit alleges that Royle Printing Co. of Sun Prairie has required its hourly employees to punch out for their 20-minute breaks if they wish to leave company premises for any part of that break. Packard aims to recover wages and other remedies owed to the hourly employees who were not paid for such breaks during the past two years. June 2009.

Water Conservation Initiative

In 2006 Governor Doyle launched a “Conserve Wisconsin” agenda that, in part, called on the PSC and Department of Natural Resources to work together to develop a statewide water conservation strategy focusing on demand-side water conservation initiatives.

Most water utilities have traditional block rates in which the price per gallon decreases with increased usage. Contrarily, conservation rates have an inverted block structure in which the price per gallon increases with usage, providing an incentive for customers to reduce consumption. CWPB filed its first intervention request on behalf of Clean Wisconsin last month, in the Waukesha Water Utility rate case. That intervention resulted in a stipulation that establishes stronger conservation rates and provides for continued collaboration between Waukesha, Clean Wisconsin, and PSC staff over the next three years on conservation rates and other conservation programs. May 2009.

Privacy in the Workplace

Attorney Tamara B. Packard presented the employee rights perspective in a talk titled “E-Mail, Internet and Privacy Issues in the Electronic Workplace” at the 2009 Wisconsin Public Sector Labor Relations Conference. Her co-presenter, offering the management rights perspective on the issue, was Milwaukee Attorney Bradden C. Backer. The Conference is an annual conference co-sponsored by the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, the State Bar of Wisconsin Labor & Employment Section, and the University of Wisconsin Law School. April 2009.

Mortgage Fraud Indictments Anticipated

During the week of March 4, Lester Pines attended the annual ABA White Collar Crime Conference. Among the topics addressed at the conference was the expected increase in federal criminal prosecutions for mortgage fraud. Specifically, federal regulators in conjunction with United States Attorneys Offices are reviewing false loan applications, fraudulent appraisals and misrepresentations in securities disclosures to the secondary market. March 2009.

CWPB Accepts Another Challenge

Pines Bach LLP has enrolled in the American Bar Associations Law Office Climate Challenge. The ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources (SEER) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designed the program to encourage law offices to take simple, practical steps to become better environmental and energy stewards.

To accept the Climate Challenge, the law firm pledged to use 100% renewable energy for its operations and to adopt paper policies that reduce overall carbon emissions, such as using paper with 35% recycled content and assuring that all new printers purchased can do 2-sided copies.

Accepting the Climate Challenge is a natural fit for a law firm that is one of the leading voices on environmental, energy and utility issues in the state of Wisconsin.

According to the ABA, the Law Office Climate Challenge gives the legal profession the opportunity to be a leader in the national environmental sustainability movement. Participating law firms set an example of environmental stewardship through participation in the Climate Challenge.

Wages and Hours Victory

A Federal Court ruled that Tamara Packard’s client should have been paid for work he did before and after his regular shift. Tamara’s client, a painter, was not paid for driving the company van between the company shop and job sites, among other activities. Federal Judge Barbara Crabb ruled he should have been paid. A jury will decide in March how much the employer owes the painter in back wages and liquidated damages. February 2009.

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