Energy, Utilities, & Renewables
At Pierce Atwood, we appreciate the importance of energy to successful business. Our experienced energy lawyers help our clients to navigate and comply with federal and state regulations, manage the cost of energy supplies, hedge energy market risks, develop and permit clean energy resources, and expand transmission and pipeline infrastructure to meet reliability needs.
Our clients include regulated electric utilities; gas utilities; pipelines; state governments and regulators; producers, buyers and sellers of electricity and natural gas; hydropower facilities; independent power developers; energy storage companies; energy trading companies; and energy marketers in virtually all aspects of utility regulation, energy project development, energy procurement, mergers and acquisitions, risk management, and smart grid implementation.
Our energy attorneys are experienced before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and numerous state public utilities commissions, and they partner closely with attorneys in our Business, Environmental, Land Use, Real Estate, State and Local Tax, and Litigation practice groups to address the range of issues that affect energy industry clients.
Electricity: Pierce Atwood has over 100 years of experience representing electrical utilities. This history carries forward today as we regularly represent electric transmission and distribution utilities and generators in state proceedings and before the FERC on a wide variety of issues important to our clients in providing safe and reliable service to their customers.
Over the last several years, our representation of electric utilities has included assisting on rate cases, merger and affiliate transaction approvals, prudence investigations, and approval proceedings for large transmission and smart grid investments.
For example, we were the lead outside attorneys on behalf of Iberdrola USA and its affiliate Central Maine Power Company in obtaining all permits and approvals for a $1.5 billion transmission project, the Maine Power Reliability Program (MPRP). We were instrumental in helping CMP assess the need for the project through the ISO-New England regional transmission planning process, oversee the studies to develop the transmission solution for that need, and prepare the non-transmission alternative assessment for the project. Currently, we are representing CMP with respect to its on-going development of the transmission upgrades needed to gather and transmit renewable resources in Maine to southern New England load centers. We are also representing New York State Gas & Electric and Rochester Gas & Electric on their rate cases before the New York Public Service Commission.
Natural Gas: We represent regulated gas distribution utilities, generators, and interstate natural gas pipeline companies, producers, marketers, shippers, and industrial and commercial end-users of natural gas on a full-range of matters.
As one example, we assisted Unitil Inc., a natural gas distribution company, with their recent base rate case. Our team, served as lead counsel in the development and submission of this rate filing and in PUC litigation and case management. Under the terms of the approved settlement, our client received a revenue increase of $3.4 million and the PUC implemented a Targeted Infrastructure Recovery Adjustment (TIRA) that allows for base rate increases to recover the costs resulting from cast iron replacement expenditures, the replacement of bare steel and non-cathodically protected coated steel mains and services, and the replacement of farm tap regulators. The stipulated rate design allocates a higher percentage of revenue requirements to fixed monthly customer distribution charges and a lower percentage to seasonal volumetric distribution charges and rate blocks. The case also has regional impact because of the innovative nature of the TIRA, which has one of the first, if not the first, earned value mechanisms adopted anywhere as part of the recovery mechanism.
We also assisted Xpress Natural Gas (XNG) in obtaining all necessary regulatory approvals and environmental permits for a compressed natural gas facility in Baileyville, Maine. The facility will receive natural gas from the M&N pipeline, condition and compress it, and then dispense it into tank trailers made of composite materials. The trailers will then be trucked to customer locations throughout Maine where the compressed natural gas will be used primarily as boiler fuel. This is the first facility of its kind in New England, and allows consumers who are not presently served by a gas utility to take advantage of this abundant, clean burning, economic, and domestically produced energy resource.
We successfully led XNG through the process of obtaining approvals from the Public Utilities Commission. We drafted and obtained a town zoning ordinance amendment and successfully navigated permit or exemption issues before the Department of Environmental Protection, the Maine Fuel Board, and the State Fire Marshal. We were also successful in determining that the facility was not subject to FERC jurisdiction and have advised XNG with respect to facilities in New York, Virginia, and other states.
Solar: We helped a client develop one of the largest commercial facilities to be equipped with a rooftop PV system in the U.S. We worked through federal, state, and utility regulation and rebates, tax, metering and interconnection issues, and negotiated favorable contract terms with the system designer, supplier, and installer.
Wind: Across the globe, we represent government and private developers of wind energy projects. Clients benefit from our expertise with innovative business structures, project finance, and extensive experience obtaining necessary federal, state, and local environmental permits. We recently assisted the Electricity & Cogeneration Regulatory Authority of Saudi Arabia with regard to the development and interconnection of up to 14 GW of wind generation.
Hydro and Tidal: We have experience in all aspects of hydro and tidal power project development and finance, including FERC license compliance, renewal, and amendment proceedings, license surrenders, decommissioning, and multi-party settlement negotiations.
Biomass: We have extensive experience with biomass projects, including issues related to financing and power purchase contracts. We recently assisted Burgess BioPower with the financing of a 75 MW facility, including federal new markets tax credit financing and a $90 million "Section 1603" grant. We also assisted Athens Energy with the permitting and financing of an 8 MW biomass facility, including $30 million of state and federal new markets tax credit financing.
Biogas: We have broad experience with biogas projects, including the first landfill-gas-to-energy project in Maine. We also assisted with the development of a facility in Texas, which is the largest of its kind in North America, for the production of pipeline-grade methane via anaerobic digestion. We have assisted with seven similar projects currently under development in three states.
Please contact Randall Rich, Jared des Rosiers, or John Gulliver for more information about our practices serving clients in the energy, utilities, and renewables industry and visit our Energy practice page.
Please contact Matt Manahan for more information about our environmental and land use permitting services for renewable energy projects and visit our Environmental practice page.
Please contact Christopher Howard or Kris Eimicke for more information about our renewable energy finance and tax credit financing services and visit our Federal Tax and Business practice pages.