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Having advised the energy sector since the enactment of the general electricity act over twenty years ago, Aguilar Castillo Love’s ‘very good’ energy practice remains ‘well regarded in Guatemala’; its vast experience ranges from distribution to generation across both the local and regional markets. In a current highlight the firm is acting as an independent expert proposed by AMM, the Guatemalan Wholesale Market Administrator, before the Comisión Regional de Integración Eléctrica (Regional Commission for the Electrical Integration, CRIE) in two landmark cases that could determine the viability of the Central American regional electricity market. Other work includes advising a transmission company in Guatemala on a planned acquisition by a multinational investment group and handling a power purchase agreement for a Guatemalan energy generation company. Juan Carlos Castillo-Chacón is widely recognised for his ‘strong expertise and knowledge’ of the energy market; he also has financial expertise and handled an IPO and several bond issuances related to the sector.

Mayora & Mayora, S.C.’s ‘excellent’ energy practice provides a ‘personalised service that is prompt and efficient’; the team combines ‘good response times’ with an ‘excellent knowledge of the electricity industry’ and handles a wide variety of energy-related matters and associated administrative regulatory issues. Expertise ranges from energy purchasing and the development of energy plants infrastructure, to bidding processes, energy regulation, and contentious administrative actions and litigation, as well as transactional advice and project finance for energy companies. The practice is particularly known for advising Guatemala’s largest electricity distribution company, IC Power subsidiary ENERGUATE, which it recently represented in multiple energy purchase bids, as well as in arbitration concerning a lost investment in infrastructure for energy transportation and distribution in the 1970s. Other work includes assisting Obrascón Huarte Lain (OHL) and Grupo Cobra with the construction of two hydroelectric generation plants; the practice also counts Grupo Ortiz and Grupo Gran Solar among its clients. The ‘competent’ team has ‘precise knowledge in a diversity of legal matters’ concerning the energy industry: recommended by clients and peers alike, key contact Rafael Briz is regarded as ‘very professional, capable and fully dedicated to reaching the set objectives with clear strategies and quality advice’; and senior associate Rafael Pinto has particular experience in renewable energy and oil and gas. The firm is the Guatemalan member of the global Lex Mundi network.

Carrillo & Asociados’s strength lies in energy-related dispute resolution, including litigation and arbitration. It has recently been involved in three arbitrations (under ICC rules) related to conflicts in the energy sector, ranging from the default of an EPC agreement to a dispute regarding the payment of Guatemalan energy market transmission charges under a power purchase agreement. The firm also assisted reinsurers with the analysis of major insurance claims related to the energy sector and – in a transactional highlight – recently advised I Square Capital on its acquisition of Duke Energy electricity generation assets in Guatemala and other countries in Latin America. Together with the constitutional litigation team, the practice assisted a client challenge an agreement between Guatemala and a foreign government for a drilling moratorium in border areas. The team also has in the past advised on the acquisition of land for energy projects and on compliance with regulatory requirements related to communities based in project sites. Rodolfo Alegría is recognised as ‘very experienced in this field’; he also has project finance expertise.

With ancillary expertise in banking and finance and litigation QIL+4 Abogados, S.A.’s ‘very involved’ energy practice advises on energy generation (the team has advised on the installation of more than 1200MW in Guatemala), assists clients with taking advantage of the regional market (including not only Central America but also Mexico), and also handles energy-related disputes. Practice clients include Enel Green Power, Generadora San Andres and Generadora San Mateo in the hydroelectric sub-sector, and Horus and Lufgua in relation to solar and wind projects, respectively. The team continues to advise Corporacion Multi Inversiones’ subsidiary Renace on the development and operation of RENACE IV, the fourth hydropower-plant to be built on the river Canlich in Alta Verapaz, in what is the largest hydroelectric complex in the country. Key contact Gabriela Roca, who has 17 years’ experience, is temporarily occupying an in-house role at her client Minera San Rafael, but remains a partner at the firm. The firm is representing the client, owner of the third largest silver mine in the world (and located in Guatemala), in a dispute resulting from a claim filed by an NGO against the government, alleging it didn’t lead a consultation process before issuing an exploitation license; the team is advising on the protection of the client’s $1bn assets, as well as permitting and compliance processes while operations remain suspended due to an injunction.

Working in close collaboration with its strong litigation department, Alegalis’s growing energy practice is increasingly active on energy-related disputes but the team also handles energy project development, project finance and tax incentives, environmental impact studies, the structuring of tenders and social responsibility agreements. The firm is experienced in solar energy, hydroelectric projects and biogas, and is currently assisting Grupo Cutzan with the planning, financing, construction and operation of a 2MW hydroelectric power plant. It also advised Caudales Renovables on a 3MW hydroelectric power plant project, and is assisting Grupo Terra’s energy unit, Terra Energía, with the recognition of a wind energy project for tax incentives purposes. The practice’s client portfolio furthermore includes Hidroeléctrica Samuc, Industrias de Biogas and Empresa Generadora de Energía Limpia. Associate Roxana Sandoval heads the practice; Juan Antonio is the other key contact.

BLP’s ‘very capable lawyers’ have ‘specialised expertise in the regional electricity market’, are ‘always available to give advice and listen’ and show particular strength in regulatory matters, but also handle energy projects and disputes, where the firm is noted for its ‘rapid responses’ while nevertheless ‘taking time to raise various defence strategies, outlining the pros and cons of each scenario’. Rodolfo Salazar is considered a ‘good listener and team player’ and the practice was further strengthened with the arrival of associate Elizabeth Cardona from the former Pacheco Coto; she brings nine years’ experience advising both the public and private sector with particular expertise in environmental law and protected areas. The practice group is currently acting for CRIE in relation to guaranteeing its jurisdictional immunity as a Central American energy regulatory entity against legal challenges brought in the Central American Court of Justice; and the Energy & Infrastructure Analysis Center, for which it is evaluating of the possibility of transmitting intraregional electricity through private lines between Guatemala and Honduras so as to enable the transnational sale of more than 110 MW surplus energy. Other clients include Constructora Norberto Odebrecht and Banco Santander.

Central Law Guatemala has a particular focus on mining projects, but also handles some matters in the renewable energy sector. A key client is Bluestone Resources, which the firm has recently been advising on the acquisition of Guatemalan company Entre Mares de Guatemala, holder of the Minero Cerro Blanco mining concession which is to be reactivated and developed. The team additionally assisted the client with the acquisition of Geotermia Oriental de Guatemala, owner of the associated 50MW power generation facility project Geotérmico Cerro Blanco. Other work included handling the repossession and resumption of operations of the Tortugas oil-field located in Alta Verapaz on behalf of Latin American Resources (after community and municipal opposition prevented the client from exploiting the reserves); and representing Cunico Resources’ subsidiary Guaxilan in an administrative appeal against the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources regarding an environmental impact assessment, among other matters. Juan Pablo Carrasco de Groote leads the practice.

With a focus on the renewable energy industry, Lexincorp is considered ‘extremely knowledgeable in the sector’, and ‘efficient and supportive’. The firm advises on energy regulations and energy projects, including advice on project finance, other financing structures and the creation of trusts, as well as clients’ participation in tenders for PPAs and transmission rights. The team continues to advise subsidiaries of Mexico’s Grupo KIN: assisting Tuncaj with various matters, including disputes, related to the construction and operation of five small solar farms in Guatemala with a total output of around 6MW and which began operations in March 2017; and Xolhuitz in relation to the development of a hydroelectric plant – including structuring the loans and warranties scheme for the project. With ten years’ experience, the ‘very supportive’ Leslie Henry is considered the ‘foremost expert on microgrid law in Central America’; she has particular expertise in energy operations in El Salvador. The practice group’s client portfolio also includes Energia Mesoamericana Sustentable, Development Ventures, and the hydropower plant Ixtal.

Novales Abogados is known for its particular expertise in electric power transmission as a result of its longstanding provision of comprehensive advice to TRECSA regarding the construction of the country’s largest transmission network. The team is experienced in assisting with easement contracts and registration, construction and forestry permits, the structuring and legal management of EPC contracts, the structuring of cross-border energy transactions and energy disputes. Recent work for TRECSA includes defending the client against accusations of environmental compliance breaches, injunctions and other actions filed by environmental activists and indigenous groups. Other highlights include providing legal support for the formation and constitution of Guatemala’s first national association of electric power transmission companies, the Asociación de Transportistas de Electricidad de Guatemala; and assisting generator Compañía Agrícola Industrial Santa Ana (CAISA), with its participation in public tenders by electric distribution companies, the negotiation of energy sale contracts with Guatemalan purchasers, and energy exports contracts to the rest of Central America. Javier Novales is the key contact.

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