Energy regulation: conventional power in United States
At McGuireWoods LLP, the energy industry team is led by Pittsburgh-based Ryan Purpura and Washington DC pair Todd Mullins and Noel Symons. Mullins regularly leads on enforcement-related matters; Symons specializes in work related to regional transmission organization (RTO) markets and cost allocation. A group led by Symons represented Cleco Power in a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) filing updating its rate for the provision of reactive power, permitting the client to recover its cost of service. Elsewhere, Richmond-based partners Joe Reed and Elaine Ryan, assisted by counsel Stephen Watts, provided regulatory advice to Dominion Energy on its merger with SCANA Corporation. The transaction created a company capable of supplying 6.5 million electricity and natural gas customers and was valued at $14.6bn. Senior counsel John Perkins, who joined the DC office from FERC in March 2018, is another name to note.
The 'extremely competent and client-friendly' practitioners at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP are able to assist clients operating in all arenas of the conventional energy space. The firm's energy regulatory department is led out of DC by Kathryn Sutton and Steve Spina; Sutton's expertise lies in nuclear power while Spina focuses on working with electric utilities. John Matthews and others are assisting Exelon Nuclear with the regulatory aspects of decommissioning Oyster Creek Generating Station, the oldest operating nuclear power plant in the country. Also of note, a group led by Brad Fagg and Paul Bessette successfully acted for Duke Energy in a breach of contract action against the Department of Energy (DOE) pertaining to spent nuclear fuel damages; the client won $68.5m. Elsewhere, the team works on FERC investigations and provides regulatory assistance on transactions. Jane Accomando is the name to note for NRC enforcement; of counsel Joseph Lowell is also recommended. Accomando was made partner in October 2018. Grant Eskelsen is a 'top-notch associate'.
Key areas of activity for Steptoe & Johnson LLP's energy team include FERC investigations, rate cases and regulatory assistance on transactions. FERC enforcement specialist Richard Roberts heads the team. A group led by Steven Ross assisted a major electric and natural gas utility with obtaining FERC authorizations for its $16.4bn all-stock merger with SCANA. Another significant matter is the firm's representation of Eversource Energy, New England's largest energy provider, in a FERC complaint proceeding; the counterparties seek a reduction in the return on equity given to New England transmission owners, which could cost the client several billion dollars of transmission investment. David Raskin, Gary Morgans and of counsel Hunter Hodges are active on this. Douglas Green, Daniel Mullen and Marc Spitzer are other names to note. Wesley Heath joined the group from FERC's Office of Enforcement in April 2018; Mark Johnson joined the Chicago office from McGuireWoods LLP in June 2018. Named attorneys are based in DC, unless otherwise noted.
Van Ness Feldman LLP
The electric and hydropower practice at Van Ness Feldman LLP is concentrated in DC, with Doug Smith and Mike Swiger acting as team heads. Smith and Gary Bachman work with investor-owned utilities; Joe Nelson and Malcom McLellan (Seattle) assist public power companies, such as Long Island Power Authority, and Jessica Friedman is noted for her work for independent power producers such as Cogentrix Energy. Friedman, assisted by Julia Wood, acts as regulatory counsel to Deepwater Wind in relation to the client's development of multiple offshore wind projects. Work includes obtaining FERC permits, electrical interconnection arrangements and transmission solutions. Other highlights included Smith's regulatory filing work for NextEra Energy in the context of its proposed acquisition of Gulf Power Company from Southern Company. In addition, the firm is especially active in hydropower mandates, working with clients such as Cube Hydro. Charles Sensiba departed for Troutman Sanders in March 2018; Justin Moeller left for an in-house position at NextEra Energy in September 2018.
Baker Botts L.L.P.'s energy regulatory practice regularly assists clients before FERC, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT). Rate design and tariff disputes, appellate advocacy, regulatory assistance on transactions and obtaining approvals for transmission generation and development are some core areas of focus. Jay Ryan (DC) and Jim Barkley (Houston) are the heads of the team. Highlights included advising the MISO Transmission Owners on the development of cost-allocation and cost-recovery mechanisms for targeted market efficiency projects on the MISO-PJM transmission seam. Brooksany Barrowes, who led on this matter, departed for Kirkland & Ellis LLP in February 2019. A group guided by Ryan assists ITC Holdings with the development and licensing of the Big Chino Valley pumped storage project. Having successfully obtained a preliminary permit and various FERC approvals, the group is currently advising the client on FERC licensing and US Army Corps permitting requirements. DC-based special counsel Emil Barth is also recommended. CenterPoint Energy and Vectren Corporation are other notable clients.
Washington DC-based Catherine McCarthy heads the 20-lawyer power practice at Bracewell LLP. Entergy, Hydro-Québec and Shell Energy North America feature among the firm's impressive clientele. A group led by McCarthy is assisting Central Maine Power Company with regulatory issues arising from the $950m New England Clean Energy Connect transmission project; key responsibilities include FERC filings and representation in a transmission rate case. Other highlights for the firm included serving as regulatory counsel to the committee of lenders for ExGen Texas Power, an independent natural gas-fired generator, with David Perlman (DC) acting as lead partner. Also in the DC office, Michael Brooks focuses on representing clients under investigation by federal bodies, including FERC and CFTC. David Poe (DC), Deanna King (Austin) and Paul Fox (Seattle) are also noteworthy. The team was strengthened by the arrival of Counsel Cheryl Foley from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in January 2018.
Split between Washington DC, Austin and Atlanta, Eversheds Sutherland's energy regulatory practice caters to a variety of clients, from traditional electric utilities (such as Allete) to renewable energy companies (such as Pattern Energy Group) and financial institutions looking to invest in the sector. Head of team Catherine Krupka (DC) assists asset management entities with compliance and enforcement issues. In recent work, Joseph Hall (DC) and others represented Cargill and Otter Tail Power Company before the DC Court of Appeals in the 14-year-long MISO revenue sufficiency guarantee case, regarding the correct application of RSG charges to transactions carried out during the initial phase of the MISO market. Hall also acts as lead regulatory counsel to Onyx Renewable Partners in relation to its development of a 100 MW solar facility in Georgia. James Guy (Austin) and Daniel Frank (DC) are some other names to note.
Hogan Lovells US LLP's conventional energy work is handled by attorneys in its DC office. The group is experienced in representing clients before FERC, NERC and DOE. Recent highlights include acting for National Electrical Manufacturers Association in its appeal of a DOE rulemaking and in an associated preemptive challenge to California Energy Commission's regulation of light bulb efficiency at federal circuit court level. Mary Anne Sullivan and Robert Wolinsky led the team in numerous disputes proceedings for a major independent system operator (ISO), one of which concerned the client's alleged monopolization of the transmission grid; a favorable settlement was reached. Edison International and Dominion Energy are some other major clients. Senior Counsel John Lilyestrom is highly recommended for regulatory litigation and FERC enforcement. Stefan Krantz is another name to note.
Trade organizations, transmission pipelines, utilities and energy storage developers all feature on K&L Gates's varied client list. William Keyser in DC and David Hattery in Seattle head the power team, which is split between the two offices and possesses 'terrific industry-specific knowledge'. In a major highlight, Elizabeth Thomas and Kari Vander Stoep (both in Seattle) served as regulatory counsel to Hydro One in the context of its $5.3b merger with Avista Corporation, assisting the client with applying for the relevant approvals across five states. Elsewhere, the team is active in compliance counseling, administrative and appellate litigation and authorization work before FERC; it knows 'just what to expect from each regulatory body'. Donald Kaplan (DC) is another name to note.
King & Spalding LLP brings a 'thorough knowledge of both the commercial and regulatory aspects of the electricity sector' to its conventional power work, which is handled by the firm's government matters department. The DC-based team is led by 'ISO and RTO tariff expert' Neil Levy. Calpine and Independent Power Producers of New York are some noteworthy clients. A group guided by Levy advised a power generation and transmission entity on the regulatory aspects of two major transactions; one was an $825m acquisition of interest in a coal bed methane-fired facility and a hydroelectric plant, and the other the $180m sale of Columbia Energy Center to South Carolina Electric and Gas Company. Additionally, David Tewksbury leads a group representing multiple suppliers - among them NRG and Eastern Generation - before FERC with regard to proposed market rules changes addressing the impact of state-approved subsidies for current generation on the market. Tewksbury 'knows the subject matter, writes exceptionally well and works efficiently'. Bruce Richardson and senior associate Stephanie Lim are also recommended.
Latham & Watkins LLP's DC-based power industry department represented Energy Capital Partners in its $5.6bn acquisition of Calpine. As regulatory lead partner, Natasha Gianvecchio assisted the client in obtaining approvals at both federal level and state level. On the contentious side, a group led by practice head David Schwartz represents Avangrid in two class action cases pertaining to alleged market manipulation. The actions were prompted by a white paper published by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) which claimed that the client's abuse of the market increased electricity prices so that ratepayers paid approximately $3.6bn extra over a three-year period. Michael Gergen is the name to note for advice on policy and transmission-related work.
Vinson & Elkins LLP handles both contentious and non-contentious matters in the context of conventional energy regulatory work. Besides assisting clients with obtaining FERC approvals for asset transactions, the energy regulatory group also represents them in cost-of-service rate cases, administrative litigation and investigations carried out by FERC's Office of Enforcement. Jim Thompson (Houston), John Wander (Dallas) and Craig Seebald (DC) are the joint heads of the team. A group led by Jo Ann Biggs (Dallas) and John Decker (DC) assisted an electrical transmission and distribution company with the preparation of change-of-control filings demanded by FERC followings its successful change-of-control transaction with Sempra Energy; this transaction was one which the firm had previously handled in the context of Energy Future Holdings' bankruptcy. Other noteworthy clients include Pattern Energy Group Holdings and Tyr Energy. Matt Henry departed for an in-house position in March 2018. Myles Reynolds and Tab Urbantke joined Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP in June 2018 and July 2018 respectively.
Winston & Strawn LLP regularly represents major players in the electricity, natural gas, hydroelectric and nuclear power industries before federal bodies such as FERC, NERC and NRC and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). San Francisco-based Joseph Karp is head of the energy, project development and project finance team. Significant highlights included Karp acting for Calpine in CPUC proceedings pertaining to the client's natural gas-fired power plants in North California, including those that set rates. Also noteworthy, a group led by Lisa Cottle (San Francisco) assisted NextEra Energy Transmission in its application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity for a new transmission project, Suncrest Dynamic Reactive Power Project. This will be the first competitively awarded transmission project built by an independent provider in the state of California. William Horin (DC) is noted for his expensive experience in nuclear power matters. A significant number of attorneys joined the group from Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP in February 2018; Patrick Groomes and Michael Yuffee are now based in Winston & Strawn LLP's DC office.
Thompson & Knight LLP
'A strong combination of industry-specific contacts and expertise' is what 'sets Thompson & Knight LLP apart from its competitors'. The firm's regulatory work in the conventional energy space forms a significant part of its Austin-based government and regulatory practice. The team is led by Katie Coleman and specializes in matters related to Texas's electric grid, often representing clients before the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC), Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) and Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). Coleman, Phillip Oldham and Rex Middlesworth act for the trade association Texas Industrial Energy Consumers in over 20 contentious cases before PUCT, including major rate cases. Oldham and Coleman are 'both specialists in conventional power regulation'. Benjamin Hallmark was made partner in February 2018.
Sandra Rizzo and Brian Israel together lead the DC-based energy practice at Arnold & Porter. The team's clients in the conventional energy space include the likes of Vistra Energy and PJM Power Providers Group. Work is focused on representation and administrative litigation before FERC, DOE, federal courts, state courts and state public utility commissions. Rizzo and others assisted Bruce Power with obtaining the relevant federal regulatory approvals for its $180m purchase of Dynegy Lee. Other highlights included acting for Tilton Energy in a FERC complaint filing for the reversal of charges imposed by Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), which the client deemed to be tariff violations. Counsel Rebecca Michael and FERC attorney Andrea Kearney assist Rizzo with this matter.
Dentons is noted for assisting with cutting-edge projects related to the development of smart cities, grid modernization and the digitization of utilities. Clint Vince and Emma Hand are the heads of the energy team. Public power authorities and city councils feature in the firm's client list, alongside traditional utilities and ISOs. Led by Vince, Hand and Presley Reed, a group assisted the City of New Orleans with devising proposed regulations for community solar power projects. They also represented the client in administrative litigation before FERC arising from Entergy's proposal to build a $230m natural gas-fired power plant in the city. Elsewhere, Kansas City-based Karl Zobrist and others act as counsel to MISO's board of directors. Counsel Jennifer Morrissey is another name to note. Named attorneys are based in DC, unless otherwise noted.
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
Combining regulatory expertise with strong litigation capabilities, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP has a track record of representing clients before FERC and CFTC and defending clients in enforcement actions. Besides this, the energy group regularly counsels clients on participation in commodities markets, conducts compliance audits, assists with obtaining regulatory approvals for projects and represents clients in rate proceedings. DC-based William Scherman leads the practice group. Also in DC, William Holloway is recommended for FERC proceedings and senior counsel Janine Durand is noted for her previous in-house experience as senior counsel at PJM Interconnection.
Greenberg Traurig LLP's expertise lies in matters relating to FERC and the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO). The energy and natural resources team regularly represents clients in federal and state-level rulemaking proceedings, federal complaint proceedings and certificate and licensing proceedings. Houston-based William Garner and DC-based Kenneth M Minesinger are the heads of the team. In a standout highlight, Boston-based Gregory Lawrence and others assisted Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority with all regulatory aspects of market transformation in the context of the client's financial insolvency; the work included advising on market structure, generation markets and facilities falling under FERC jurisdiction.
New partners Tab Urbantke and Myles Reynolds joined the Dallas office of Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP from Vinson & Elkins LLP in June 2018 and July 2018 respectively. Urbantke, Reynolds, New York City-based Kevin Jones and DC-based Ted Murphy are the joint heads of the energy regulatory team, which is noted for its 'high levels of responsiveness and willingness to go the extra mile'. Murphy and others assist NYISO with its design and implementation of 'buyer-side' capacity market power mitigation rules; specific work includes helping the client obtain FERC approval for the new rules and defending against complaints. Also of note, a group led by Urbantke is representing Oncor Electric Delivery in rate proceedings before several municipalities and the PUCT concerning the return of $250m in credits to ratepayers. The group also has 'deep knowledge of PUCT regulation'. Following the merger of the formerly separate firms Hunton & Williams and Andrews Kurth Kenyon in March 2018, the previous heads of the team, Kenneth Wiseman and Mark Sundback, departed for Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP.
Houston-based Jeffrey Schlegel heads the 18-partner energy department at Jones Day. Key areas of work include regulatory assistance with transactions, compliance counseling, litigation before FERC and the representation of clients in appellate proceedings. Highlights included a group led by Kenneth Driver (DC) representing SCANA before FERC with regard to its $14.6bn merger with Dominion Energy; assistance was provided with a joint application requesting FERC approval of the merger. Also in DC, James Beh represents American Electric Power in FERC proceedings concerning the California Energy Crisis. DC-based electric transmission specialist David Connelly is also of note.
Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP's 70-lawyer power and alternative energy projects department is well equipped to handle conventional energy regulation matters. Advisory work is a key activity for the group, spanning matter of compliance, enforcement and electric transmission tariffs. Joseph Williams and others represent the owner of a gas-fired generator in a complaint against an ISO with the objective of altering market design. Additionally, Williams and Jonathan Franklin (head of the appellate practice) act for a regulated electric utility in a petition for review of FERC orders on transmission cost allocation. Major investment banks and government bodies also feature on the firm's client list. Williams is joined by Keith Martin and New York-based Benjamin Koenigsberg in heading the practice group. Associate Anna Biegelsen often assists with matters involving FERC and the CFTC. Robert Shapiro is also recommended. Named attorneys are based in DC, unless otherwise noted.
Advising on regulatory issues related to the running of natural gas-fired generation projects, wind and solar projects and emergent storage developments are some key areas of focus at Paul Hastings LLP. The environment and energy practice group is led by DC-based corporate partner William DeGrandis. Recent highlights include Peter Weiner (San Francisco) and others assisting First Solar with obtaining permits for its Cal Flats project. The team also represents the client in negotiations concerning solar regulatory policy with the DOE and Bureau of Land Management. The firm's client list also includes the likes of Georgia Transmission Corporation and Olympus Power Company. Michael Spafford (DC) is another name to note.
Reed Smith LLP
Reed Smith LLP's energy and natural resources team has been strengthened by a stream of additions over the past few years; among them, transaction specialist Todd Culwell, who joined the Houston office from the now-defunct Andrews Kurth LLP in July 2017. In the regulatory space, the group represents conventional energy clients before FERC and CFTC, assists with enforcement and investigation matters and engages in compliance counseling. Rate cases form a significant part of the team's contentious work. Craig Enochs (Houston) and Nicolle Bagnell (Pittsburgh) are key contacts. Also highly recommended are DC-based partners Colette Honorable and Regina Speed-Bost and counsel Debra Ann Palmer.
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
John Estes, known for his track record of defending clients in FERC enforcement actions, is the head of the DC-based energy regulation and litigation group at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. Enforcement defense and administrative litigation are cornerstones of the team's contentious practice. Key non-contentious activities include regulatory due diligence on transactions and assistance with developing FERC compliance programs. Counsels Donna Byrne and Gerard Clark are also recommended; Byrne is the name to note for market manipulation cases, whereas Clark represents electric utilities in administrative litigation before federal and appellate courts. Counsel Cheryl Foley departed for Bracewell LLP in January 2018.
The energy, environment and natural resources group at WilmerHale is led by Denver-based Andrew Spielman. Besides assisting with the development of transmission infrastructures and the decommissioning of nuclear facilities, the team also has a strong record of working on regulatory matters relating to the production of renewable energy and offshore wind specifically. Highlights included Spielman, counsel Raya Treiser (DC) and others assisting Virginia Electric and Power with obtaining federal permits for a $270 transmission line project; once completed, this will guarantee grid reliability for over 600,000 residents in the Virginia peninsula. NextEra Energy and Edison Electric Institute are some other key clients. Also recommended are Ken Salazar (Denver), Michael Connor (DC) and counsel Bonnie Heiple (Boston).