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.

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, Matt Manahan for more information about our environmental and land use permitting services for renewable energy projects, and Christopher Howard or Kris Eimicke for more information about our renewable energy finance and tax credit financing services. 

Areas of Expertise

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.

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.

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.

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.

Locally, regionally, and 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.

Representative Experience

We are assisting Ørsted (formerly DONG Energy), a Danish energy company and one of the world's leading developers of off-shore wind generation facilities, in connection with the development of Bay State Wind, its proposed off-shore wind farm southwest of Martha's Vineyard.

Development of Offshore Wind Farm

We represent Fox Islands Wind LLC, the developer and operator of an innovative island community wind project, in all aspects of its business, including environmental permitting, real estate, litigation, corporate, and compliance matters.

Fox Islands Wind General Representation

Represented Fox Islands Wind, LLC in the development of an innovative initiative supported by the island's consumer-owned electric cooperative, nonprofit institutions, and private investors, which included the receipt of federal production tax credits.

Fox Islands Wind Innovative Initiative

Represented Patriot Renewables before the Maine Board of Environmental Protection in successful defense of DEP permit issued for the 24 MW Canton Wind Project, and in the appeal of the DEP permit to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, which upheld the DEP permit in an order issued on February 3, 2015.

Patriot Renewables Successful Defense of Maine DEP Permit

Representative Experience

The $1.5 billion Maine Power Reliability Program was the largest transmission project in Maine's history, with approximately 350 miles of new high voltage transmission line and five new substations. Pierce Atwood was instrumental in helping CMP assess the need for the project through the ISO-New England regional transmission planning process, overseeing the studies to develop the transmission solution for that need, preparing the non-transmission alternative assessment for the project, and obtaining all federal, state, and municipal environmental and land use permits for the project.

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$1.5 Billion CMP Maine Power Reliability Program

Advise major Northeast provider of fuel oil and propane in connection with trade association activities, including data exchanges.

Advice on Trade Association Activities

Pierce Atwood acted as real estate and environmental permitting counsel for Calpine Corporation in its $530 million acquisition of the 809 MW Fore River Generating Station in North Weymouth, Massachusetts from Exelon Corporation in 2014. Pierce Atwood attorneys from the Real Estate, Energy, Environmental and State and Local Tax practice groups worked seamlessly to analyze and resolve the many complex land use, tax, and environmental issues. The initial bid preparation through purchase agreement negotiation was accomplished in 15 weeks. Our work included analysis and management of complex tidelands, former coal ash disposal, dual fuel delivery requirement, and management of active MassHighway bridge relocation through the center of project site.

Calpine Acquisition of Fore River Generating Station

With our partners from Central and Eastern Europe, our Energy attorneys are leading a legal review of sector policies addressing climate change and promoting the transition to low carbon economies.

Climate Change Policies in Central and Eastern Europe

We successfully defended Central Maine Power Company’s standards for planning local transmission systems before the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC). In a year-long investigation into the appropriate standards for Maine’s electric utilities to use in planning their local transmission systems, we defended the standards that CMP has historically followed. The PUC Staff rejected most of CMP’s planning standards as unreasonable, but the Commission largely rejected the Staff’s view and affirmed that CMP’s planning standards reflect good utility practice, are reasonable and will help ensure that CMP’s customers have a safe and reliable transmission system. CMP is pleased with this outcome as it vindicates the Company’s position and will hopefully bring certainty to the planning of future transmission projects in Maine.

CMP Clarification of Standards for Future Transmission Projects

Pierce Atwood represented Consolidated Communications Holdings, Inc. in obtaining approval from the Maine Public Utilities Commission of Consolidated’s acquisition of FairPoint Communications, Inc.  The all-stock transaction was valued at approximately $1.3 billion including debt and based on present equity value. 

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Consolidated Communications Acquisition of FairPoint Communications

The United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit vacated FERC's decision to withhold over-collections payments from our clients. Agreeing with seven firm clients, the court found that FERC's directive that PJM recoup over $37 million in previously ordered refunds associated with transmission line loss overpayments was arbitrary and capricious. We argued that, because financial market participants pay transmission line loss charges, and for the period at issue also paid for the transmission system through the payment of transmission charges, they were entitled to a fair share of the over-collections paid back to all other participants. The court agreed and found unreasonable FERC's decision to deny an allocation to financial participants while they were paying transmission charges and also challenged FERC's decision to first order such payments and then almost two years later change its mind and seek to claw back the refund amounts. The Court remanded to FERC for reconsideration and explanation. Black Oak Energy, LLC v. FERC, No. 08-1386 (Aug. 6, 2013). The remand also led PJM to agree to a stay of Delaware state court proceedings initiated by PJM to collect the amounts from the three of the marketers.

Court Orders FERC Over-collections Repaid

We are working with Central Asia on creation of regional electricity and gas markets to encourage coordination of cross-border interconnection investments.

Cross-Border Interconnection Invesments in Central Asia

We are assisting Via Science to provide reliability services for grid operators by collecting and analyzing data.

Data Collection & Analysis for Grid Reliability

The litigation attorneys in our Augusta office successfully defended a mechanical services company in connection with work done on a hydroelectric facility.

Defense of Mechanical Services Company

Assisting Mountain Gardens, LLC, a solar PV developer, in connection with the development of two 2 MW (each) brownfield community distributed solar projects located in Newburgh, New York.

Development of Brownfield Community Distributed Solar Projects

On behalf of Beacon Power Corporation, one of our attorneys worked with ISOs/RTOs to develop tariffs for FERC’s approval that established a category of ancillary service providers for companies providing fast-responding Frequency Regulation. As a result of the implementation of these tariffs, flywheels and batteries were permitted to bid competitively for specific ancillary services.

Development of FERC Tariffs Establishing Category of Ancillary Service Providers

We represent and advise landfill owners in the development of gas-to-energy sites where methane is extracted from the landfill and used to generate electricity.

Development of Gas-to-Energy Sites

We are assisting Ørsted (formerly DONG Energy), a Danish energy company and one of the world's leading developers of off-shore wind generation facilities, in connection with the development of Bay State Wind, its proposed off-shore wind farm southwest of Martha's Vineyard.

Development of Offshore Wind Farm

John Bulman is currently sitting on a Dispute Review Board for a nuclear power plant construction project. Industry professionals are chosen to sit on Dispute Review Boards by the interested parties involved with a construction project for their experience, their independence, their commitment to the project, and their training as mediators and arbitrators. 

Dispute Review Board for Nuclear Power Plant Construction Project

The U.S. Agency for International Development has been working with representatives of the Libyan provisional government to restructure its electricity market to attract needed private investment. Although any recommended changes likely will not be implemented until the civil war ends, Pierce Atwood attorney Julia Weller has been asked to draft a new Electricity Market Law for Libya to introduce international best practices, establish a phased introduction of competition and create a new independent regulator. 

Drafting New Electricity Market Law for Libya