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In Memoriam Paul L. Zimmering

Stone Pigman mourns the death of its beloved long-term member, Paul L. Zimmering, on March 4, 2024 after a short illness.  Paul was a valued and important member of the firm from 1977 until the day he died.  He was a steadfast supporter of the firm, and gave generously of his time and energy during his four-plus decades with the firm.  We thank Martha, his loving wife, for sharing him with us.  Paul is survived by Martha and his stepdaughter Lanie. 

Paul was one of the most experienced and admired public utility lawyers in Louisiana.  The word of his passing has spread rapidly and the firm has received countless condolences from near and far.  He has been described by those lamenting his passing as a "legend" and a "titan."  There is no doubt that he will be sorely missed by all who knew him.

Although engaged his entire career in adversarial litigation, Paul was respected and liked by everyone with whom he came into contact.  Affectionately known as "Zeke," he was genuinely interested in others and their families.  He habitually displayed kindness and respect even to adversaries in hotly-contested cases.  Paul was a valued mentor and good friend to many at the firm over the years.  He was always available to listen and advise, or to share a story and a laugh.  He was well known for his thoughtful gifts, thank-you notes, funny cards, and expressions of support to everyone with whom he worked.  He organized holiday gift collections and their distribution to members of the Stone Pigman staff, dubbing himself "The Great Rabbi in the Sky."

Paul participated in an array of litigated cases, but became mostly known for representing the Louisiana Public Service Commission.  He was loved by Commissioners and the Commission staff alike.  He was highly accessible to all and a master at translating complex utility regulation concepts into lay language.  He provided briefing sheets to the extremely-busy members of the Commission, allowing them to absorb the basics of complex cases prior to oral arguments.

Paul took the lead role in many PSC rate cases, delivering hundreds of millions of dollars of rate reductions and refunds to Louisiana consumers over decades.  He also represented the Commission before federal agencies, primarily the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.  Paul took a major role in 1982 and 1983 FERC cases involving the allocation of the exorbitantly expensive Grand Gulf nuclear plant, securing a reduced allocation to Entergy Louisiana LLC and Entergy New Orleans LLC.  The LPSC victory saved Louisiana consumers about $3 billion in the first ten years alone of Grand Gulf's operation, and continues to save customers millions of dollars annually today.  He participated in numerous other cases at FERC in which rate reductions were obtained by the LPSC, including a 2001 case that eventually produced about $800 million in refunds for Entergy Louisiana and Entergy New Orleans customers.

Paul was part of the team representing the LPSC in litigation involving a breach of a contract by United Gas Pipe Line Co. for sales of natural gas to the Entergy companies, which produced about $300 million for customers.  Paul and others represented the LPSC in court proceedings that upheld a $1.4 billion disallowance of the cost of the River Bend nuclear plant, again saving huge sums for consumers.  He represented the LPSC in transmission negotiations and oversight matters related to the Midwestern Independent System Operator RTO, which determines allocations of huge amounts of electric transmission costs.

Paul taught "Energy Law" at the Tulane University Law School as a volunteer adjunct professor for many years.  He was known as "Professor Zimmering" at the LPSC.  He developed good and lasting relationships with students and provided them valuable schooling in an important developing area of the law.  He shared his knowledge freely, often advising LPSC staff members on matters on which he was not formally retained.

Paul was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1949.  He attended Brown University, earning a bachelor's degree in Political Science and a Master's in Teaching.  He taught at George Mason High School in Falls Church, Virginia for two years, in five different subject areas.  He moved to New Orleans and attended Tulane Law School, where he was a member of the Tulane Law Review and graduated near the top of his class.  He clerked on the Louisiana Supreme Court for Justice John A. Dixon, then joined Stone Pigman in 1977.

Paul was a wonderful person.  Stone Pigman lawyers who represent the LPSC are often asked about Paul, sometimes by lawyers who have not seen him for decades.  We at the firm will miss him dearly.

There will be a Celebration of Life for Paul on Saturday, March 16 at 1:00 p.m. at Lake Lawn Metairie Funeral Home & Cemeteries (5100 Pontchartrain Boulevard, New Orleans, Louisiana 70124).

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