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Energy Regulation & Litigation

The energy industry is one of the most highly regulated sectors of our economy, requiring experienced, sophisticated counsel to successfully navigate the obstacles that arise in pursuing a successful outcome. Our lawyers have held senior positions at major electric utilities, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the Bonneville Power Administration, and the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Unlike law firms wedded to a particular client or narrow sector within the energy industry, we represent a broad range of clients in both electric and natural gas regulatory matters, leveraging that range of experience to provide quick, insightful answers to our clients’ questions and efficiently handle the most complex and often obscure issues.

Electric power and transmission
We regularly represent clients, including renewable and thermal-powered electric generators, integrated utilities, municipal utilities, power marketers, and electric industry trade associations, with matters before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the CPUC and other state public utility commissions, the BPA and other federal power marketing agencies and state energy facility siting authorities. These matters include:

  • FERC proceedings: We represent electric generators with respect to obtaining QF and EWG status, market-based rate authority, and approval for acquisitions/dispositions of jurisdictional assets. We also represent clients with respect to preparing and litigating rate cases, obtaining merchant transmission authority, filing tariffs, rate schedules and quarterly reports, obtaining waivers from Open Access Transmission Tariff requirements, requesting declaratory orders on legal issues, and submitting comments on proposed rulemakings. In addition, we regularly advise clients with respect to transmission access and policy, and generator interconnection issues.
  • State regulatory proceedings: We represent and advise clients in state commission proceedings dealing with rates, resource planning, utility procurement, renewable portfolio standards and programs, greenhouse gas reduction initiatives, and regulatory approvals necessary for power purchase agreements. We also represent clients with respect to state siting issues regarding the construction of transmission lines and other utility infrastructure. In addition, we represent the California Independent System Operator (CAISO).
  • Mandatory electric reliability standards: We advise electric clients with respect to compliance with the mandatory electric reliability standards adopted by FERC and enforced by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) and Regional Entities, such as the Western Electricity Coordinating Council. These issues have included advising clients as to whether they are required to register with NERC and which reliability standards are applicable to them, and monitoring the evolving interpretations of these standards by FERC.
  • Litigation: Litigation is never the preferred option, but it is sometimes necessary to achieve the desired outcome. When that occurs, our clients have access to an extraordinarily deep bench of lawyers who litigate matters in both federal and state court, as well as before federal and state agencies, such as FERC and state PUCs. Among other energy-related statutes, we have litigated on many occasions under the Federal Power Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act. In addition, we regularly litigate contractual disputes that arise in the context of energy projects. Because of the volume of litigation handled by our lawyers, we are able to provide far greater experience and efficiencies than smaller firms that litigate on a less frequent basis.

Natural gas
We have wide-reaching experience representing a broad based mix of clients, including electric generators, industrials, local distribution companies, municipal and investor-owned utilities, investors, and energy marketers on natural gas regulatory/transactional matters and related litigation. Our attorneys have substantial experience practicing before the FERC and with the natural gas industry generally. We combine long-standing familiarity with the energy policy issues confronting the FERC with in-depth technical knowledge of the agency’s regulatory processes, rulemaking procedures and compliance standards. We regularly participate in trial-type hearings and settlement conferences and have filed numerous applications, pleadings and comments of all types. In addition, we have represented many clients in subsequent federal court appellate proceedings both challenging and supporting FERC decisions. We assist clients on issues associated with both gas transportation and supply contracts. Our relevant experience includes:

  • Regulatory litigation: Our lawyers represent clients in natural gas pipeline rate, certificate and rulemaking proceedings before the FERC and in the federal courts of appeal.
  • Tariff issues: We represent clients on the full range of issues raised by such filings, including, capacity release requirements, creditworthiness standards, natural gas quality and interchangeability issues.
  • Settlement: We have extensive experience in the settlement negotiation process and in both supporting and challenging settlements at the FERC and in the federal courts of appeal.
  • Compliance/enforcement: We advise clients on natural gas compliance issues, including assistance in developing in-house compliance programs, compliance with reporting requirements, standards of conduct and market monitoring requirements, and provide representation in enforcement investigations.  

Hydroelectric licensing and compliance
Our energy lawyers have the breadth and depth of experience to provide top-quality legal advice regarding virtually any hydroelectric licensing or compliance matter. They are very familiar with all three of FERC’s relicensing processes (traditional, alternative and integrated), as well as the wide variety of substantive licensing and compliance matters that are administered by FERC under the Federal Power Act. We are also knowledgeable about the process of obtaining a state water quality certification under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act and are very experienced in navigating the requirements of the Endangered Species Act.