Energy litigation: conventional power in United States
Ryan Purpura in Pittsburgh and Todd Mullins and Noel Symons in Washington DC jointly head the energy industry team at McGuireWoods LLP. The firm's clients in the conventional energy space include both traditional electric utilities such as Cleco Power and major names in clean energy such as NextEra Energy. Todd Mullins (DC) and others assisted Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) with a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) enforcement matter concerning the client's electricity offers into the Pennsylvania New Jersey Maryland (PJM) market; the matter was successfully resolved, saving the client approximately $135m in disgorgement. Elsewhere, a group led by Noel Symons (DC) represented Duke American Transmission Company in a rate case to recover the costs of its share of a transmission upgrade initially funded through a public-private partnership. The firm is able to litigate contested rate cases at both state and federal level. Senior counsel John Perkins joined the Washington DC office from FERC in March 2018.
With clients such as Arizona Public Service Company and Southern California Edison, the work of Steptoe & Johnson LLP's electric practice group spans much of the US. Richard Roberts is the head of the 'seasoned' 23-lawyer group, which 'works to advance business interests while maintaining the necessary regulatory relationships'. Antitrust expert Douglas Green and others successfully acted for Eversource Energy (the largest transmission owner in New England) in a class action antitrust and consumer fraud complaint; the plaintiff alleged that the defendant purposely withheld gas transportation capacity on the Algonquin gas pipeline, increasing wholesale electricity price in New England by a total of $3.7bn over several years. In an ongoing matter for the same client, a team led by the 'creative, strategic and forward-thinking' David Raskin represents Eversource Energy in four complaints filed at FERC seeking to reduce the return on equity allowed for New England's transmission owners. Gary Morgans is 'a master of FERC rate-making theory'; also recommended are Daniel Mullen, Charles Mills, Steven Ross and Jennifer Key. Associate Karen Bruni is noted for her FERC enforcement and investigation work. Mark Johnson joined the Chicago office from McGuireWoods LLP in June 2018; of counsel Heather Horne departed for an in-house position at Duke Energy in November 2018. Named attorneys are based in Washington DC, unless otherwise noted.
Conventional energy litigation is handled by the wider litigation department at Bracewell LLP, which is led by Stephen Crain. Recent highlights include Bryan Dumesnil and Bradley Benoit representing the board of directors of Southern Copper Corporation in a commercial dispute arising from three transactions involving power plants owned by a subsidiary of the client. The plaintiffs are shareholders in Southern Copper Corporation and claim that the transactions unfairly deprived the company of valuable assets. In the administrative litigation space, Catherine McCarthy (DC) and others are representing Central Maine Power Company and The United Illuminating Company in multiple FERC complaint proceedings in which the counterparties seek a reduction in the return on equity granted to the clients. Additionally, the group represents clients in contested rate cases and FERC enforcement matters. Deanna King (Austin), Christopher Dodson and J Clifford Gunter are also highly recommended. Named attorneys are based in Houston, unless otherwise noted.
A major success for Baker Botts L.L.P.'s Houston-based energy litigation department was its defense of a major electricity and natural gas utility in a gross negligence lawsuit arising from a fire that destroyed the plaintiff's house; the work was led by Jason Newman. The firm's energy litigators regularly collaborate with its energy regulatory lawyers in contentious regulatory cases. For instance, Jim Barkley and others are acting for Murphy Oil in a petition for a declaratory order at the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT); the client seeks recognition that two oil and gas fields in the Eagle Ford Shale are entitled to electric services from the utility of its choice. Kevin Jacobs, John Anaipakos and Brooke McNabb are recommended, respectively, for their expertise in contentious matters pertaining to nuclear power plants, crisis management and personal injury. The team is headed by Bill Kroger.
Jenner & Block LLP's Chicago office welcomed a group of eight lawyers from now dissolved energy boutique Rooney Rippie & Ratnaswamy LLP in April 2019; among them is litigator Glenn Rippie. In addition to consistent activity in commercial and environmental litigation, 2018 saw the firm play a major role in two high-stakes 'zero emission credit' cases. Matthew Price and others successfully represented Exelon at the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in defense of the state's zero emission credit program, which subsidizes distressed nuclear power plants on the grounds that they do not emit carbon dioxide. The estimated value of the credits won over ten years totals $2.3bn. Price also led a group which acted for Commonwealth Edison Company before the Illinois Supreme Court, arguing that the client qualified as a 'public utility' under state law so as to exercise the right of eminent domain. Also recommended are Randy Mehrberg (Chicago), Suedeen Kelly, David DeBruin and Max Minzner. Named attorneys are based in DC, unless otherwise noted.
Clint Vince is the head of the 'professional, knowledgeable, consistent and reliable' Washington DC-based energy practice at Dentons, which is 'incredibly meticulous'. The firm has particular expertise in the increasing overlap between the TMT and energy sectors, with a track record of advising on the numerous legal aspects involved in the development of smart cities. In recent work, a group led by Vince advised the New Orleans City Council on its evaluation and ruling regarding a proposal by Entergy New Orleans to build a $230m natural gas-fired power plant in the city. Peter Theiman and counsel Jennifer Morissey are also recommended.
The power department at K&L Gates is led by Washington DC-based William Keyser. Keyser and others represented American Petroleum Institute in a notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR) before the Department of Energy (DOE) regarding cost-of-service rate recoveries for coal and nuclear power facilities; the work included drafting comments on behalf of the natural gas industry opposing the proposed cost-recovery mechanism for these facilities. The team is also active in litigation pertaining to the development of battery storage and defending against challenges to cost allocation rules in the context of new transmission projects. Also recommended are Elizabeth Thomas (Seattle), Donald Kaplan (DC), Buck Endemann (San Francisco) and Kari Vander Stoep (Seattle).
Defending Southern California Gas Company in multiple lawsuits arising from the high-profile Aliso Canyon storage leak has formed a large portion of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP's recent work. Notably, Los Angeles-based Jim Dragna and others succeeded in reaching a $8.5m settlement for the client with California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District. Elsewhere, a group led by DC-based Brad Fagg successfully represented Duke Energy in a class action in which the plaintiffs sought class certification for over a million customers, injunctive relief and the disgorgement of rates collected under Florida’s Nuclear Cost Recovery System. Besides these highlights, the team handles commercial litigation and breach-of-contract cases for conventional energy clients. Michelle Pector (Houston), John Gisleson (Pittsburgh) and Ezra Church (Philadelphia) are also recommended. The group was fortified by numerous promotions and new additions to the litigation practice in 2018.
The energy markets and regulatory practice at White & Case LLP is led by DC-based Daniel Hagan, who is particularly experienced in representing power clients before both federal and state agencies. Hagan is also noted for a strong record in enforcement proceedings. The team's varied client list features public utilities, power generators and private project developers, as well as publicly owned entities. FERC proceedings make up a significant portion of the team's work, followed by disputes before federal district courts.
A number of arrivals from Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP in early 2018 has greatly consolidated the energy, project development and project finance team at Winston & Strawn LLP. Michael Yuffee and Michael Loesch are some key newcomers. The team's client list includes the likes of New York Transmission Owners Group and NRG. A key highlight was the firm's representation of Duke Energy, as an intervenor in support of FERC and the Secretary of Commerce, before the Fourth Circuit in an action challenging FERC's issuance of a licence for the client's Yadkin-Pee Dee Hydroelectric project. John Whittaker, noted for his experience with matters pertaining to hydroelectric power, led on this case. Besides work at the courts of appeals, the group is also capable of representing clients before FERC, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Elias Farrah, Gordon Coffee, Kimberly Ognisty and San-Francisco based partner Lisa Cottle are also all recommended. Named attorneys are based in DC, unless otherwise noted.