Energy’s role in N.J.’s future: 4 questions with of Rebecca Moll Freed of Genova Burns and Kenneth Sheehan

Rebecca Moll Freed


Genova Burns


Kenneth Sheehan


New Jersey Board of Public Utilities


What is your organization’s role in the clean energy space? 

Genova Burns is a midsize law firm in the New Jersey metropolitan region, with key insights, experience and knowledge into the clean energy space. From solar to renewable energy to traditional energy and other highly regulated entities and industries, we have been involved in projects large and small. Through the use of counsel, advice and litigation, where necessary, Genova Burns has successfully assisted companies throughout the region before the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and other federal, state and local regulatory boards and agencies.

How do your organization’s services promote and enable greater energy efficiency and sustainability for your clients?

Genova Burns has been able to assist energy efficiency and sustainability through our knowledge of the state’s programs and the ability to work with entities to find programs capable of assisting in the development and deployment of clean energy, renewable energy and sustainability techniques and technologies. As a full-service law firm, Genova Burns can work not just on the development and receipt of rebates and subsidies, but provide services including land use, development, contracts, union relations and, if needed, litigation and mediation.

What are your clients finding as the biggest challenges New Jersey faces today in its efforts to transition from oil and gas to renewable energy, and what is your role in assisting?

Clients find a number of challenges in transitioning from oil and gas to renewable energy, including the open question of what will be the status of oil and gas in the state moving forward. Without the clear designation of if and when oil and gas infrastructure will no longer be funded and built, and if and when oil and gas will be effectively “shut off,” making decisions on spending time, money and corporate energy on the question of how and when to transition becomes less of an immediate issue.

Those companies that are forward-thinking and have a corporate culture of clean and renewable energy may have started the process and have developed new and effective techniques. And, as the prices drop on clean energy and rise on traditional fossil fuels, fiscally responsible companies are also moving toward these new energy solutions. Nonetheless, once a decision is made on a state or federal level to either continue or cease operations on oil and gas, this will accelerate and do so rapidly.

Genova Burns has the ability to work with entities at any stage of this process, from those ready to make the move to those waiting and reviewing to ensure that this transition is a necessary and cost-efficient and effective.

How does your organization play into economic and environmental advancements?

Waiting on answer.

What do you see as New Jersey’s biggest long-term obstacles to getting to net zero by 2050?

The biggest issue in reaching net zero in New Jersey by 2050 is not New Jersey; it’s the world. New Jersey will need to develop low-carbon and carbon-free baseload and incremental generation, will need to deploy transmission and distribution facilities as well as distributed generation and on-site generation, and will need to provide the leadership needed to convince the stakeholders — corporate and individual — that moving forward is not just the best choice, but is the only choice.

The problem will be the costs, both to the individuals and to the state. When the true costs are shown, and the ability to compete locally and globally is clear, moving to carbon-free is easy. As such, it is necessary to look both short-term and long-term on costs and benefits, and to factor in the benefits to not just the individual or the company, but the state, the country and the world.

As all of the country moves forward, New Jersey will not see incremental costs that can be a foundation to delay and deny the need to change. Once we see that the expensive decision is to not change, moving forward will happen even quicker than today.