Shearman & Sterling Project Development & Finance partner, Paul Epstein, was a panelist for the ‘P3 Electrified Summit’ organized by P3C Media, which was held earlier this month in San Diego. Paul’s presentation highlighted public-private partnership (P3) funding opportunities within the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program. The other panelists for this discussion included representatives from the project owner, Abrdn Asset Management, Moody’s Investors Service (which has rated the Project) and the EPA.
Paul offered his insights about the program based on his extensive experience as legal counsel to the EPA in relation to the WIFIA program, spotlighting Shearman’s role as external counsel to the EPA for the financing of the Carlsbad Desalination Plant in San Diego.
Paul led the Shearman team that advised the EPA on the $170 million secured loan for the expansion of the Carlsbad plant, which is the largest, most technologically advanced and energy-efficient seawater desalination plant in the United States. The federal loan (which was the first WIFIA loan for a P3), in combination with approximately $160 million of private activity bonds, will finance the final phase of the plant’s expansion and modernization, including the plant’s intake modification and wetlands projects.
“The keys to getting this deal done were EPA’s ability to analyze and mitigate risk within the existing project and financing structure for the plant, and EPA’s flexibility in accepting certain risks inherent to the P3. We dove in and diligenced these risks, offered solutions for navigating the most material ones and, from a legal perspective, structured an appropriate integration of the WIFIA documentation with the existing transaction in a way that worked for EPA and the project sponsor, Channelside.”
Paul’s practice includes advising clients on projects, acquisitions and financings in the infrastructure and energy sectors, both domestically and internationally. Paul represents sponsors, lenders and issuers including corporations, insurance companies, funds, and other financial institutions.