Pierce Atwood is the go-to firm for renewable energy project development throughout New England and New York. Our experienced lawyers help clients acquire, sell, finance, develop, and permit renewable energy projects including solar, energy storage, biogas, and offshore and onshore wind. We also assist with the development of additional transmission resources that are critical to all types of new generation development. With offices in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, we often serve as local counsel for projects throughout New England and New York.

We understand the regulatory, tax, real estate, land use, financial, and environmental issues underpinning the successful development of renewable energy projects. We have extensive experience providing opinions of counsel in connection with renewable energy financings, including regulatory, permitting, real estate, corporate, and tax opinions. We also have strong relationships with regulators and policy makers in New England and New York which gives us insight into the application of law to complex factual circumstances and helps us identify creative solutions. Our lawyers have experience with all aspects of M&A transactions involving the purchase and sale of renewable projects and portfolios. Finally, we understand the need to collaborate closely with engineers, economists, environmental experts, financial analysts and other experts as part of the broader client and project team.

With federal, state, and local governments adopting and implementing sustainability initiatives to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change, the lawyers of Pierce Atwood partner with our clients to take advantage of these opportunities and bring renewable energy projects to fruition.

Mergers & Acquisitions

We represent both the buy side and the sell side in M&A transactions. Our M&A deals include representation of energy companies, private equity investors, and public companies for which we serve as regular M&A counsel in connection with their acquisition programs. Pierce Atwood has provided advice on virtually all aspects of mergers and acquisitions transactions, whether in connection with single-property or portfolio acquisitions. We frequently serve as local or regional counsel to assist national or international counsel with specific local issues. This experience has made us a pre-eminent regional firm in all areas of energy project purchase and sale transactions.

Regulatory

Developing renewable energy projects requires in-depth understanding of the federal and state regulatory frameworks underlying the projects. Our regulatory lawyers have the expertise to address the many issues that arise in acquiring, developing, operating and financing energy projects. Pierce Atwood’s multidisciplinary team can help clients obtain the requisite federal and state regulatory approvals, navigate and satisfy applicable federal and state regulations, and assess the impacts and risks of federal and state regulatory and policy developments. We have extensive experience before numerous state regulatory agencies throughout the Northeast, including in all New England states and New York, as well as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Environmental, Siting & Permitting

Renewable and other power projects are subject to a patchwork of local, state, and federal regulation regarding facility siting, environmental, and land use requirements. Pierce Atwood attorneys understand the environmental laws and regulations that affect how a project proceeds through the permitting and siting process. We have more than 40 years of experience in permitting power projects under state and federal stormwater, wastewater, natural resource, wetland, land use, air and contaminated property statutes.

We provide guidance at every stage in the process from site assembly/acquisition and initial planning through permitting, construction, and operation. Our attorneys work with clients to obtain the full range of governmental approvals for a renewable energy project, including local, state, and federal permits, permitting compliance, license renewals and modifications; federal and state-level stormwater, wetlands, tidelands, natural resource, environmental notification and site contamination requirements; risk assessment and mitigation for contaminated properties; as well as local zoning, subdivision, and site plan approvals. Pierce Atwood successfully employs efficient, cost-effective strategies to secure permits on a timely and often expedited schedule.

Tax Structuring & Financing

Pierce Atwood’s tax attorneys have substantial experience integrating all elements of a project’s capital stack and assisting clients to structure their renewable energy projects in the most tax-efficient manner possible. We have experience with all tax aspects of energy projects, including tax equity financing utilizing investment tax credits, production tax credits, and new markets tax credits. We have assisted clients in implementing a variety of different structures to optimize the value of tax benefits, such as sale-leasebacks, partnership flips, and inverted lease structures, including back-levered loan structures. We also have substantial experience in structuring renewable energy projects to avoid or minimize property tax assessments, including obtaining tax abatements, minimizing the treatment of property as real estate fixtures and improvements, and negotiating tax-increment financing and payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreements. Our tax attorneys also provide state and local litigation, planning, transactional, regulatory and legislative support services to project developers on all state and local tax issues and economic development incentives. Our work has included advising clients on the state and local tax and economic development aspects of power projects. We have significant experience with issues involving the valuation of facilities, starting at the local level, through state boards and trial courts and all the way up to state supreme courts.

Energy Storage

Pierce Atwood enjoys a national reputation advising clients on the rapidly growing area of energy storage projects. We have extensive experience working with energy storage companies before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Independent System Operators/Regional Transmission Operators, and public service commissions on issues including, but not limited to, capacity accreditation, storage-as-transmission assets, and hybrid resources. We provide significant value to clients by offering a deep understanding of the regulatory process and how regulators are likely to rule on particular issues. Among our many energy storage clients, we act as outside counsel to the U.S. Energy Storage Association. Pierce Atwood’s energy attorneys, among other matters, led efforts on behalf of the energy storage industry that resulted in FERC Orders Nos. 755 (pay for performance for frequency regulation), 784 (Third-Party Provision of Ancillary Services; Accounting and Financial Reporting for New Electric Storage Technologies), 792 (interconnection of small generation interconnection agreements), 841 (expansion of the storage industry into the energy, capacity and ancillary services markets), and 2222 (distributed energy resources). We actively work with ISOs/RTOs and FERC to help develop innovative tariffs to allow new energy storage technologies to operate on the grid and to be paid for the benefits they provide, including for voltage regulation, peak shaving, grid reliability and environmental value.

Our energy lawyers understand the challenges facing the energy storage marketplace, including those associated with integrating storage technologies into the grid and utility distribution systems, and how these technologies can be incorporated to help alleviate those challenges. We have extensive experience working with ISOs/RTOs and utilities to ensure that new technologies satisfy reliability and other regulatory thresholds.

For more information about how we can help with your renewable energy project in New England or New York, please contact one of our team members:

Solar Sarah B. Tracy, Kris J. Eimicke, Merrill L. Kramer, Brian M. Rayback
Offshore Wind James M. Avery, Richard S. Novak
Transmission Jared S. des Rosiers, Matthew D. Manahan, James M. Avery
Energy Storage Andrew O. Kaplan
Onshore Wind Kris J. Eimicke, Brian M. Rayback, Sarah B. Tracy, Lisa A. Gilbreath
Renewable Gas Randall L. Rich, Sarah B. Tracy, Brian M. Rayback, Lisa A. Gilbreath

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

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

Working with our colleagues Mercados-AF we submitted two new laws to the Jamaican government. The consortium, Mercados-AF, was awarded two World Bank contracts to develop and implement new electricity and gas sector policies. We partnered with them to write two new energy acts. We wrote a framework for a new Electricity Act that will foster competition for new power plants on the island. We also developed the framework for a new Natural Gas Act that will govern the import, storage, sale, transmission, and distribution of natural gas – whether in the form of LNG, compressed natural gas, or locally discovered gas. The Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining of Jamaica is very pleased with the results of both projects.

Drafting New Energy Laws for Jamaica