Pierce Atwood's energy attorneys understand the importance of energy to successful businesses and strive to help our clients, from utilities to end use customers, reach their energy goals. Whether your goal is navigating and complying with federal and state regulations; developing, acquiring, financing and permitting clean energy resources; expanding electric transmission or pipeline infrastructure to meet regional reliability and other public policy needs; or procuring and managing your energy supply requirements and risks, our energy lawyers are there every step of the way.

Our energy attorneys represent private and public entities in the energy sector across the U.S. Our clients include:

  • Regulated electric and gas utilities
  • Electric transmission project developers
  • Solar, wind, hydropower and other renewable energy developers, owners, investors and lenders
  • Energy storage companies and developers
  • Producers, buyers and sellers of electricity and natural gas
  • Oil and natural gas pipeline owners and customers
  • Energy marketers and traders

We work with clients in virtually all aspects of utility regulation, energy project development, energy procurement, mergers and acquisitions, risk management, and smart grid implementation.

Areas of Expertise

Our energy regulatory lawyers have the expertise and in-depth understanding of the federal and state regulatory frameworks to address the many issues that confront regulated utilities, entities acquiring or selling energy generation facilities, and other parties subject to federal or state energy regulation, including ratemaking, purchase and sale and financing transactions, wholesale market participation and rules, compliance and investigations. At Pierce Atwood, our clients benefit from knowing that within a single law firm they have access to a team of accomplished energy lawyers to help them obtain the requisite federal and state regulatory approvals, navigate and comply with applicable federal and state regulations, and assess the impacts and risks of federal and state regulatory and policy developments.

Pierce Atwood offers a deep bench of attorneys who have served in senior policy positions at state and federal regulatory agencies. Our energy attorneys regularly practice before federal agencies, including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Securities and Exchange Commission and U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. We also have extensive experience before numerous state regulatory agencies, including California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin. Several of our energy attorneys have previously served as staff to state and federal energy regulatory agencies and have a unique insight into how regulators approach various issues.

Ratemaking

Pierce Atwood’s energy attorneys have significant experience representing utilities and other interested parties in ratemaking proceedings before state and federal regulators. This experience includes all aspects of traditional cost of service ratemaking and rate design as well as performance-based or alternative ratemaking mechanisms, including rate adjustment indices, capital trackers, earning sharing, and service quality incentives and penalties. Our attorneys are knowledgeable and experienced in litigating rate proceedings through discovery and contested hearings or negotiating compromise solutions through the settlement process that benefit our clients.

Utility Mergers & Regulated Transactions

Pierce Atwood’s energy attorneys have significant experience representing utilities and other parties in obtaining necessary regulatory approvals for energy transactions, including federal and state approvals for utility mergers and purchase and sale transactions, affiliated transactions, and state-led energy procurements. Our attorneys have successfully negotiated fuel supply, transportation, and interconnection agreements for natural gas, biomass, LNG, and other fuels; interconnection agreements with electric transmission utilities; and power purchase agreements and other off-take contracts for the output of renewable and conventional fuel generation plants, and have obtained the necessary regulatory approvals for such agreements. In addition, we have substantial experience in obtaining approvals, exemptions and waivers under Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978, as amended (PURPA) and the Federal Power Act; in obtaining certificates under the Natural Gas Act for gas pipeline and storage facilities; in guiding developers of crude oil pipelines through the open season, declaratory order, and tariff processes; and in complying with state and federal gas and power marketing regulations. We pride ourselves in our ability to assist our clients in structuring their transactions to exempt them from or minimize the impacts of FERC and state jurisdiction.

Wholesale Market Rules

Pierce Atwood energy attorneys also have extensive experience working in and with FERC, Independent System Operators (ISOs) and Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs) on market-based authorizations for wholesale sales of electric energy, capacity, and ancillary services; arrangements and agreements for new power generators to participate in the organized markets; and for the sale and acquisition of facilities. Our attorneys were at the forefront of the development of FERC’s rules and policies regarding (i) natural gas pipeline capacity release and open access transportation, as well as more recent regulations granting exemptions for shippers utilizing asset management arrangements, and in obtaining individual waivers from FERC for specific transportation transactions, and (ii) the participation of energy storage facilities in the organized ISO energy, ancillary services and capacity markets. Pierce Atwood attorneys regularly advise clients regarding market rules governing selling and trading in the PJM, ISO-New England, NYISO, California ISO, MISO and ERCOT regional markets.

Impacting Policies & Regulations

Energy projects typically involve important federal and state regulatory policy issues, contracts with regional electric or natural gas utilities, and dealing with ISOs. Pierce Atwood has a long and distinguished history of representing clients before state and federal energy regulators and helping to shape relevant energy policies.  We regularly partner with our clients to collaborate with similarly situated companies to shape policies and regulations that support the advancement of renewable energy and the development of appropriate market rules.

Pierce Atwood represents energy clients in rulemaking proceedings before local, state, and federal agencies regarding all policy issues which would affect the development of electric power projects, electric transmission projects, and natural gas and oil pipelines and shippers. Our firm also has an experienced Governmental Relations team that assists our clients shape energy policy before State legislatures and federal and state agencies, including FERC and the U.S. Department of Energy. Learn more about our Governmental Relations Practice.

Regulatory Compliance & Investigations

Given our experience practicing before numerous federal and state energy regulators and understanding of the applicable laws and regulations, our energy attorneys also regularly advise on regulatory compliance matters. We conduct compliance training for electric and natural gas clients and, when necessary, represent clients in administrative investigations, show cause proceedings, management audits and prudency reviews.

Representative Experience

Advising Encino Acquisition Partners (Encino Energy) on agreements for the sale and transportation of Encino's natural gas for compliance with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requirements. Encino acquired the Ohio Utica Shale assets of Chesapeake Energy.

Agreements for Natural Gas Sale & Transportation

We advised a large independent oil and gas exploration and production company that will be an anchor shipper on a new regulated crude oil gathering pipeline in the Delaware Basin of Texas and New Mexico that will move crude oil from the basin to larger trunk pipelines and on to Cushing, Oklahoma and other points.  We assisted in the negotiation of a letter of intent, a transportation service agreement including benefits for anchor shippers that will require approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (“FERC”) in a petition for declaratory order, tariff provisions, storage agreements, and other contracts.  We also advised the client on timing and options for dealing with FERC’s current lack of a quorum, which limits the agency’s ability to issue the requisite declaratory order.  In addition, we reviewed and assisted in the negotiation of downstream transportation agreements.

Anchor Shipper for New Regulated Crude Oil Gathering Pipeline

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

Represented a community-based wind farm in obtaining state regulatory approval for a long-term electricity contract.

Community-Based Wind Farm State Regulatory Approval for Long-Term Electricity Contract

Represented Cumberland Gulf and others in rulemaking proceedings before the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

Cumberland Gulf in Rulemaking Proceedings Before MPUC

We successfully obtained from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) two key waivers of its capacity release rules for a large independent oil and gas producer client.  FERC requires that shippers on natural gas pipelines that seek to transfer pipeline capacity in connection with a large transaction or exiting the natural gas supply business seek a waiver of the capacity release rules and policies to ensure that there are no inadvertent violations. 

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FERC Waivers of Capacity Release Rules

Represented market participants, including Bath Iron Works, Calpine, and Cate Street in ISO-NE markets, providing them representation and advice regarding compliance with market rules.

Market Participants in ISO-NE Market Rules Compliance

Represented Brookfield Power, Madison Paper, FPL Energy, and BayCorp in the purchase and sale or financing of hydro projects in Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire, including regulatory approvals and qualifying facility recertifications.

Purchase, Sale and Financing of Hydro Projects

Retained to advise Vermont Electric Power Company (VELCO) in connection with general regulatory issues. 

Regulatory Advice to Vermont Electric Power Company

Represented an owner/developer in conjunction with all aspects of a major commercial facility roof top PV installation in California, which at the time was the largest project of its type there. This work included negotiation of Cal ISO grid integration protocols, negotiation with the local utility with which the project interconnects, working with the California PUC on permits and tax credits, and advice regarding federal tax credits, together with associated commercial and financial advice.

Roof Top PV Installation at Major Commercial Facility

Representation of Southbridge Business Center in connection with 15-year oversight of 3.2 MW combined cycle electric/ steam/hot water/chilled water system for plant landlord and owners of serviced hotel and industrial park. Managed successful workout when plant operator failed.

Southbridge Business Center in Oversight Combined Cycle System

Negotiated electricity, capacity, and REC contracts on behalf of state agency.

State Agency Negotiation of Electricity, Capacity, and REC Contracts

Acadia Bay LLC

Brookfield Renewable Power

Central Maine Power Company

NTE Energy

Ocean Renewable Power Company

Ørsted

Primary Power International

Energy projects require a wide variety of legal specialties. Pierce Atwood is one of a handful of law firms that can offer the requisite expertise with the value of a regional law firm rate structure. We regularly represent clients on energy project financings and mergers and acquisitions, including independent and tax structured transactions; drafting and negotiating project or credit documents; resolving regulatory obstacles; or allocating risk among project participants. We leverage our sophisticated practices to solve problems that arise and get projects done efficiently and cost effectively. Pierce Atwood’s energy infrastructure attorneys work with energy utility companies, renewable energy project developers, lenders, private equity companies, and tax equity investors in developing, financing and acquiring energy infrastructure projects of all types. Our experience runs the gamut – from negotiating power purchase, engineering, procurement and construction (EPC), site leases, and other commercial agreements; to structuring tax equity and debt financing arrangements; to mergers and acquisitions; and obtaining requisite energy regulatory, siting and permitting approvals.

With the support of our real estate, environmental, tax, and other specialty practices, Pierce Atwood manages and advises our clients on the full array of legal considerations required for a successful energy project. This includes due diligence on all regulatory, environmental, real estate, tax and other issues that affect the risk and credit profiles of energy projects. Our attorneys also assist clients to identify and characterize risk, structure and negotiate deal terms and contractual provisions, set up and manage data rooms, and prepare disclosure schedules.

Please visit our Energy Infrastructure Project Development & Finance page for more information about our experience.

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

We advised a large independent oil and gas exploration and production company that will be an anchor shipper on a new regulated crude oil gathering pipeline in the Delaware Basin of Texas and New Mexico that will move crude oil from the basin to larger trunk pipelines and on to Cushing, Oklahoma and other points.  We assisted in the negotiation of a letter of intent, a transportation service agreement including benefits for anchor shippers that will require approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (“FERC”) in a petition for declaratory order, tariff provisions, storage agreements, and other contracts.  We also advised the client on timing and options for dealing with FERC’s current lack of a quorum, which limits the agency’s ability to issue the requisite declaratory order.  In addition, we reviewed and assisted in the negotiation of downstream transportation agreements.

Anchor Shipper for New Regulated Crude Oil Gathering Pipeline

Firm client Calpine Corporation has acquired Granite Ridge Energy Center, a natural gas-fired, combined cycle plant in Londonderry, NH from Granite Ridge Holdings for $500 million. The plant provides about 2,000 MW of clean, flexible, and reliable energy to the region.

Calpine Acquisition of Granite Ridge Energy Center

Beginning in 2017, Pierce Atwood has represented Avangrid Networks, Inc. and its affiliate CMP on all aspects of the development of the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC), a $950 million, 147 mile high-voltage direct current transmission line that will interconnect the New England transmission system with the Hydro-Quebec (HQ) transmission system at the Canadian border in western Maine. Our work began by taking the lead in preparing the proposal for the project in a competitive solicitation conducted by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (MA DOER) and Massachusetts electric distribution companies (EDCs) for up to 9,450,000 MWh of clean energy generation and associated transmission. In early 2018, the MA DOER and the EDCs selected the NECEC as the winning bid in the solicitation. Thereafter, Pierce Atwood has assisted CMP to negotiate the definitive transmission services agreements (TSAs) with the EDCs and HQ for the project.

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New England Clean Energy Connect

Developing energy projects requires an in-depth understanding of federal and state energy policies and legal and regulatory frameworks underlying every energy project. Pierce Atwood’s Energy team offers the insights of several attorneys who served in senior policy positions at state and federal regulatory agencies, including the former Chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Cogeneration and Independent Power Task Force, the Chief of Staff and General Counsel of the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, FERC’s Supervisory Attorney for Gas & Oil Litigation, FERC Commissioner Assistants, state PUC senior attorneys and former board members of solar energy and biofuels companies.

Impacting Policies & Regulations

Supported by our Government Relations team, we partner with our clients to shape policies and regulations that support the advancement of renewable energy. For example, we represent a large national trade association that is active on policy formation surrounding alternative fuels and biofuels laws and regulations. The firm is lead outside counsel to the U.S. Energy Storage Association on a variety of federal and state issues affecting the energy storage resources, and represents the Coalition of Renewable Energy Users and Developers (CORE), a coalition active in shaping renewable energy and storage policies in New York.

Environmental Permitting & Licensing

Successful completion of a project often requires understanding the environmental laws and regulations and the political influences that affect how a project proceeds through the permitting and siting process. In some cases, we work with clients to amend the applicable law or local ordinances so their projects may proceed. We also assist clients with obtaining local, state, and federal permits, and are particularly adept at navigating National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements, including Environmental Assessments and Environmental Impact Statements. Our experience also includes assisting clients with permitting compliance, license renewals and modifications, and the acquisition, creation, and sale of greenhouse gas allowances/carbon credits. When a project's useful life comes to an end, we also assist with license surrender and decommissioning.

For example, because we have deep expertise, we are frequently called upon as part of financing transactions to issue opinion letters to lenders and investors regarding permitting and environmental regulatory issues for portfolios of generation projects, such as solar and biomass. We have experience helping owners of hydropower projects address fish passage and endangered species issues, achieve desired results in complex stakeholder negotiations as part of FERC licensing, and obtain state water quality certifications. We have also assisted in permitting all aspects of electric transmission and solar and wind generation projects as well as biomass electrical generation, biomass-fired co-generation at industrial facilities, landfill gas-to-energy facilities, and battery storage facilities. Learn more about our Environmental practice.

Avangrid

Central Maine Power Company

California Department of Water Resources/Energy Resources Scheduling Division

Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company

NextEra

PG&E Corporation

Unitil

On electricity-related matters, our attorneys represent transmission and distribution utilities; regulated and non-regulated power generation companies; solar, wind, and battery storage project developers; and large electricity consumers. Our capabilities and experience cover all aspects of structuring and negotiating energy business transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, and representing clients in regulatory proceedings before state public utility commissions, state siting boards, the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Electricity, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. With expertise in all aspects of electricity regulation at the state and federal levels, our regulatory capabilities cover matters such as rate approvals (traditional cost of service and alternative performance-based), merger and sale approvals, regulatory enforcement and compliance, power marketing authorization, transmission siting, environmental and safety requirements, Regional Transmission Organization participation, import/export authorization, Presidential Permits for border crossing facilities, rulemakings, and complaint proceedings.

Renewable Energy

Pierce Atwood is at the cutting edge of the growing and increasingly complex industry of renewable energy technologies. Our lawyers have played a leading role in the evolution of the renewable energy industry in the United States.

Our interdisciplinary renewable energy team brings together expertise in all aspects of renewable energy project development to assist developers, power producers, and investors throughout the United States. Whether the renewable source is wind, solar, hydro, tidal, biomass, or biogas, our lawyers have experience in the core areas that make or break a renewable energy project. We stay on top of the myriad of state and federal programs promoting the financing and development of renewable resources and the reduction in carbon emissions, so that we can assist our clients make use of these programs to achieve their business objectives, while also furthering the identified public policy goals. Our experience includes community solar programs, tax credits and programs around the buildout of electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Learn more about our work in the Renewable Energy industry.

Transmission

Our energy lawyers regularly represent major developers and users of electric transmission facilities, both AC and DC, including within ISO-New England, Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Maryland (PJM), Midwest ISO (MISO), New York ISO (NYISO), California ISO and Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). We represent our clients on all aspects of development, including regulatory authorization, environmental permitting and siting, real estate, land use, eminent domain issues, and construction contracting and dispute resolution. With the advent of FERC Order 1000, our attorneys have taken the lead in preparing detailed proposals to competitive solicitations for new transmission facilities designed to address public policy needs, including connecting renewable resources to the transmission grid and mitigating transmission congestion, including the largest active transmission development project in New England designed to import Canadian hydropower to New England and a major HVDC link between Iowa and Illinois to transport wind generation into the PJM market.

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. 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. Learn more about our energy storage expertise and experience.

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

Pierce Atwood represented Central Maine Power Company in a rate case proceeding arising from an investigation initiated by the Maine PUC following a 10-person complaint filed against CMP seeking an order decreasing the company’s delivery rates. CMP proposed a revenue requirement increase of approximately $46.5 million. After discovery and contested hearings, in February 2020, the MPUC authorized a distribution revenue requirement increase of $17.420 million, or 6.88%, from the company’s prior annual distribution revenue requirement.

CMP 2018 Rate Case

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

We advised the Electricity and Cogeneration Regulatory Authority of Saudi Arabia (ECRA) on a variety of legal, regulatory and related issues arising from the decision of the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (K.A.CARE) to introduce 54 GW of renewable energy and 18 GW of atomic energy into Saudi Arabia by 2032, in order to reduce the use of oil for power generation, including cogenerated desalination and water storage projects. We led an international team of consultants (A.S. Azzouni Consultants, Inc.; The Brattle Group; ICF International, NTE Solutions, LLC) on this project, with respect to a variety of legal, regulatory, and market issues including an international Comparison of Markets Study, assessment of the K.A.CARE targets, interconnection, transfer pricing and related grid and market operational issues; legal review and analysis of proposed amendments to the Electricity Law; nuclear, and health and safety licensing issues; and institutional organization, structure, and authority of the regulator.

ECRA of Saudi Arabia Renewable Energy Projects

On behalf of our client Freedom Energy, we convinced FERC and ISO-New England to reinterpret an exemption under Dodd-Frank, making it possible for Freedom Energy to continue operating in the retail energy market. ISO-New England (ISO-NE) had proposed to require an entity to own physical assets in order to qualify for an exemption under Dodd-Frank as “actively participating in the generation, transmission or distribution of electric energy.” Freedom Energy is a small retail energy supplier that purchases electricity in the ISO-NE market and sells it to commercial and industrial end-users. Freedom Energy does not, however, own any physical assets. Under ISO-NE’s proposed rules, Freedom Energy would have been required to demonstrate that it held $5 million in assets in order to continue transacting in the ISO-NE markets. FERC agreed with Freedom Energy’s argument that ISO-NE’s interpretation of the “actively participating” exemption is discriminatory against retail electric suppliers and would essentially eliminate that sector since very few retail power suppliers have assets in excess of $5 million. FERC required ISO-NE to demonstrate why its proposal is not discriminatory. After FERC acted, counsel for ISO-NE contacted us to state that the ISO will agree with Freedom’s interpretation and dispense with the physical asset ownership requirement. This is a resounding victory for a small client which would have otherwise been forced out of business by ISO-NE’s requirements.

Freedom Energy FERC and ISO-NE Rule Exemption

We represent the national electric transmission company of Kyrgyzstan in negotiating all project documents related to the development of the Central Asia-South Asia (CASA-1000) Transmission Project, a 1300 MW transmission line to enable the sale of excess summer hydropower from the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan. The $1.3 billion project, to be financed by the World Bank and other multilateral institutions, involves construction of three DC/AC converters, over 750 km of HVDC lines and 477 km of HVAC lines. The project achieved financial close in April 2015 and construction is scheduled to start in 2016.

Government of Kyrgyzstan High-Voltage Transmission Line

Beginning in 2017, Pierce Atwood has represented Avangrid Networks, Inc. and its affiliate CMP on all aspects of the development of the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC), a $950 million, 147 mile high-voltage direct current transmission line that will interconnect the New England transmission system with the Hydro-Quebec (HQ) transmission system at the Canadian border in western Maine. Our work began by taking the lead in preparing the proposal for the project in a competitive solicitation conducted by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (MA DOER) and Massachusetts electric distribution companies (EDCs) for up to 9,450,000 MWh of clean energy generation and associated transmission. In early 2018, the MA DOER and the EDCs selected the NECEC as the winning bid in the solicitation. Thereafter, Pierce Atwood has assisted CMP to negotiate the definitive transmission services agreements (TSAs) with the EDCs and HQ for the project.

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New England Clean Energy Connect

We won a precedent setting appeal before the Texas Public Utility Commission involving a decision of the Electric Reliability Counsel of Texas (ERCOT) on behalf of our clients West Oaks Energy and Longhorn Energy. This PUCT decision rejected a retroactive market resettlement that had been ordered by ERCOT, resulting in a $10 million price reversal for our clients and others. In this case, ERCOT adjusted settled market prices, on a retroactive basis, for the December 1, 2010 through February 1, 2011 period , claiming there had been a “significant software or data error” that justified the price change. In the appeal to the PUCT we demonstrated that in fact there was no software or data error, simply an unhappiness on ERCOT’s part with how its own market design was functioning. The PUCT, by unanimous vote, agreed with us and also agreed that while prospective rule changes are needed from time to time it is extremely harmful to market participants, and to market confidence, to try and make these changes on a retroactive basis. This decision has also led to a potential reversal of a second market resettlement that was ordered by ERCOT. In that second case, and on behalf of firm client XO Energy TX, we had challenged an almost identical retroactive market resettlement as unlawful and contrary to system protocols. This second resettlement involved over $2.7 million. At ERCOT’s request this matter is now being held in abeyance until the next ERCOT Board meeting when it will be reconsidered. We are delighted with these outcomes and believe the PUCT decision is likely to put an end to unwarranted, after the fact price changes in the ERCOT market. We believe it also establishes very important precedent for all ISO electricity markets.

Precedent Setting Appeal Before Texas Public Utility Commission

Retained to advise Vermont Electric Power Company (VELCO) in connection with general regulatory issues. 

Regulatory Advice to Vermont Electric Power Company

Unitil

Enbridge, Inc.

Gas and Oil Association of WV, Inc.

Macquarie Energy

Maine Natural Gas Corp.

Downeast LNG

Whiting Oil & Gas

With many states targeting zero carbon emissions in the energy sector in the coming decades, natural gas remains a critical piece of the energy puzzle, particularly for electric generation and heating needs. Pierce Atwood's energy practice helps natural gas trading companies, marketers, producers, pipelines, local distribution companies (LDCs), end-users and LNG developers take full advantage of North America’s vast gas reserves. We provide comprehensive and practical advice to help our clients manage regulatory and public policy risk as well as develop effective strategies for success in the competitive aspects of the gas industry. We also represent shippers on common carrier oil pipelines as well as small, producer-owned oil pipelines.

Federal Issues (FERC, DOE, and CFTC)

  • Rates and tariffs
  • Transportation and capacity release requirements
  • Enforcement investigations, self-reports, no-action letters, Hot-Line complaints
  • Compliance training and manuals
  • Certificates and abandonment
  • Reporting requirements
  • Jurisdictional issues and structuring
  • Hinshaw and intrastate pipelines, non-jurisdictional plant lines
  • Gathering and processing
  • Import and export authorizations and Presidential Permits for border crossing facilities
  • Renewable natural gas and biogas
  • Local LNG and compressed natural gas

State Issues

  • Rates and tariffs
  • Facilities siting, safety and environmental impact
  • Cast iron and bare steel pipeline replacement
  • New distribution projects
  • Jurisdictional determinations
  • Fuel supply
  • Government relations

Transactional Matters

  • Purchase and sale agreements – NAESB and ISDA
  • Hedging plans and agreements
  • Transportation and storage agreements
  • Interconnection agreements
  • Precedent agreements and letters of intent for new projects and expansions
  • RFPs
Representative Experience

Advising Encino Acquisition Partners (Encino Energy) on agreements for the sale and transportation of Encino's natural gas for compliance with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requirements. Encino acquired the Ohio Utica Shale assets of Chesapeake Energy.

Agreements for Natural Gas Sale & Transportation

We advised a large independent oil and gas exploration and production company that will be an anchor shipper on a new regulated crude oil gathering pipeline in the Delaware Basin of Texas and New Mexico that will move crude oil from the basin to larger trunk pipelines and on to Cushing, Oklahoma and other points.  We assisted in the negotiation of a letter of intent, a transportation service agreement including benefits for anchor shippers that will require approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (“FERC”) in a petition for declaratory order, tariff provisions, storage agreements, and other contracts.  We also advised the client on timing and options for dealing with FERC’s current lack of a quorum, which limits the agency’s ability to issue the requisite declaratory order.  In addition, we reviewed and assisted in the negotiation of downstream transportation agreements.

Anchor Shipper for New Regulated Crude Oil Gathering Pipeline

We represented an energy provider in a commercial agreement to sell compressed natural gas (CNG) to commercial customers and a related $6 million convertible preferred equity investment in the CNG supplier.

Compressed Natural Gas Sales in Maine

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

We successfully obtained from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) two key waivers of its capacity release rules for a large independent oil and gas producer client.  FERC requires that shippers on natural gas pipelines that seek to transfer pipeline capacity in connection with a large transaction or exiting the natural gas supply business seek a waiver of the capacity release rules and policies to ensure that there are no inadvertent violations. 

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FERC Waivers of Capacity Release Rules

We represented the Independent Oil & Gas Association of West Virginia, Inc. in a successful resolution of a contentious multi-party settlement of Texas Eastern Transmission's revised natural gas quality specifications. This settlement secured the flexibility and standards needed for Marcellus Shale gas and traditional Appalachian supplies to meet pipeline specifications.

IOGA West Virginia Resolution of Multiparty Settlement

As development of the Marcellus shale natural gas formation accelerated in 2010, Texas Eastern Transmission, a major interstate pipeline, and its large utility customers began to develop new quality specifications for natural gas shipped on the pipeline. Although Appalachian natural gas has long included high concentrations of ethane, and that gas previously met pipeline quality specifications and posed no threat to pipelines or consumer equipment, the large utilities wanted the ethane removed from the gas stream – at the producer's cost. The principal market for ethane is the petrochemical manufacturing region in Texas and Louisiana and there is no existing pipeline or other reasonable means of shipping the ethane. Representing long-time gas producer association clients Independent Oil & Gas Association of West Virginia, Inc. and Independent Oil & Gas Association of Pennsylvania, Pierce Atwood led the efforts to forge a multiparty settlement of the quality specifications at FERC. Pierce Atwood's efforts avoided costly litigation and secured the producers and pipelines upstream of Texas Eastern significant flexibility and gas quality standards that ensure Marcellus shale gas and traditional Appalachian supplies will meet pipeline specifications and flow to critical northeastern market.

Multiparty Settlement Ensures Gas Flows to Northeastern Markets

We represented Xpress Natural Gas (XNG) in expanding access to compressed natural gas throughout the State of Maine and elsewhere in New England. Pierce Atwood assisted XNG in obtaining all necessary regulatory approvals and environmental permits for compressed natural gas production facilities in Baileyville and Eliot, Maine. These facilities receive natural gas from major pipelines, condition and compress it, and then dispense it into tank trailers made of composite materials. The trailers are then trucked to customer locations throughout Maine and elsehwhere, where the CNG is used primarily as boiler fuel. These were the first facilities of their kind in New England, and allow consumers who are not presently served by a gas utility to take advantage of this abundant, clean burning, economic and domestically produced energy resource. Our attorneys successfully led XNG through the process of obtaining approvals from the Public Utilities Commission. We drafted and obtained a town zoning ordinance amendment and other local approvals, 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 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission jurisdiction.

Permitting for CNG Facilities

Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company

Central Maine Power Company

California Department of Water Resources/CERS

Pierce Atwood has been a "go to" firm for many years for clients litigating energy-related matters in federal and state courts and before regulatory agencies. Our energy litigation practice brings together our general expertise in complex litigation and appellate practice and specific expertise in state and federal energy law and regulation. In particular, because of our long and successful history representing public utilities and other energy-related entities, Pierce Atwood attorneys in recent years have been lead litigation counsel in a series of multi-million dollar energy related lawsuits, involving:

  • Power purchase agreement disputes and rate challenges
  • Ownership and contract disputes
  • Transmission siting, permitting and referendum related disputes
  • Judicial review of federal and state permits
  • Bankruptcy contract rejections and filed-rate doctrine disputes
  • Nuclear decommissioning and spent fuel storage issues
  • Retail supply and marketing practices related class actions
  • State and local tax matters

Highlights of our experience in this area include successfully representing the State of California in three multi-billion dollar proceedings before the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Second and Ninth Circuits, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; representing three nuclear power plants to recover over $200 million from the DOE in the Federal Court of Claims; and convincing the Maine Supreme Judicial Court to strike down as unconstitutional a proposed referendum targeting a major transmission project in New England.

Representative Experience

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

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 represent energy companies in all types of enforcement proceedings before FERC—from investigations to trials. We also routinely provide audit and regulatory compliance training.

Enforcement Proceedings Before FERC

We won a precedent setting appeal before the Texas Public Utility Commission involving a decision of the Electric Reliability Counsel of Texas (ERCOT) on behalf of our clients West Oaks Energy and Longhorn Energy. This PUCT decision rejected a retroactive market resettlement that had been ordered by ERCOT, resulting in a $10 million price reversal for our clients and others. In this case, ERCOT adjusted settled market prices, on a retroactive basis, for the December 1, 2010 through February 1, 2011 period , claiming there had been a “significant software or data error” that justified the price change. In the appeal to the PUCT we demonstrated that in fact there was no software or data error, simply an unhappiness on ERCOT’s part with how its own market design was functioning. The PUCT, by unanimous vote, agreed with us and also agreed that while prospective rule changes are needed from time to time it is extremely harmful to market participants, and to market confidence, to try and make these changes on a retroactive basis. This decision has also led to a potential reversal of a second market resettlement that was ordered by ERCOT. In that second case, and on behalf of firm client XO Energy TX, we had challenged an almost identical retroactive market resettlement as unlawful and contrary to system protocols. This second resettlement involved over $2.7 million. At ERCOT’s request this matter is now being held in abeyance until the next ERCOT Board meeting when it will be reconsidered. We are delighted with these outcomes and believe the PUCT decision is likely to put an end to unwarranted, after the fact price changes in the ERCOT market. We believe it also establishes very important precedent for all ISO electricity markets.

Precedent Setting Appeal Before Texas Public Utility Commission

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

Advising Encino Acquisition Partners (Encino Energy) on agreements for the sale and transportation of Encino's natural gas for compliance with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requirements. Encino acquired the Ohio Utica Shale assets of Chesapeake Energy.

Agreements for Natural Gas Sale & Transportation

We advised a large independent oil and gas exploration and production company that will be an anchor shipper on a new regulated crude oil gathering pipeline in the Delaware Basin of Texas and New Mexico that will move crude oil from the basin to larger trunk pipelines and on to Cushing, Oklahoma and other points.  We assisted in the negotiation of a letter of intent, a transportation service agreement including benefits for anchor shippers that will require approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (“FERC”) in a petition for declaratory order, tariff provisions, storage agreements, and other contracts.  We also advised the client on timing and options for dealing with FERC’s current lack of a quorum, which limits the agency’s ability to issue the requisite declaratory order.  In addition, we reviewed and assisted in the negotiation of downstream transportation agreements.

Anchor Shipper for New Regulated Crude Oil Gathering Pipeline

We have been retained by an independent electricity transmission company to help them develop an energy storage business plan, evaluate battery vendors, prepare vendor contracts, and assist with applicable regulatory approvals and permits.

Assisting Electricity Transmission Company with Energy Storage Plan

Represented biomass facilities in regulatory challenge to allocation of REC credits in Rhode Island.

Biomass Facilities in Regulatory Challenge To Allocation of RECs in Rhode Island

Represented Brookfield Renewable Power in matters concerning the Ripogenus and Penobscot Mills, including judicial appeals of FERC license orders. We obtained a favorable ruling in Conservation Law Foundation v. FERC, 216 F.3d 41 (D.C. Cir. 2000).

Brookfield Renewable Power in Ripogenus and Penobscot Mills Matters

We advised Burgess Biopower on all aspects of financing the redevelopment of a shuttered paper mill into a state-of-the-art 75 MW biomass power plant located in Berlin, New Hampshire, which will burn waste biomass and sell power to the grid. The financing involved several sources of funds, including $63.5 million of new markets tax credit financing with allocation from six CDEs. The project also involved a $90 million section 1603 cash grant in lieu of an investment tax credit or production tax credits. The balance of the project was financed by $200 million of rated bonds provided by a consortium of financial institutions. We also advised with respect to EPC agreement, off-take power purchase agreement with PSNH and all project related agreements.

Burgess Biopower New Hampshire Mill Redevelopment

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

Firm client Calpine Corporation has acquired Granite Ridge Energy Center, a natural gas-fired, combined cycle plant in Londonderry, NH from Granite Ridge Holdings for $500 million. The plant provides about 2,000 MW of clean, flexible, and reliable energy to the region.

Calpine Acquisition of Granite Ridge Energy Center

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

Pierce Atwood represented Central Maine Power Company in a rate case proceeding arising from an investigation initiated by the Maine PUC following a 10-person complaint filed against CMP seeking an order decreasing the company’s delivery rates. CMP proposed a revenue requirement increase of approximately $46.5 million. After discovery and contested hearings, in February 2020, the MPUC authorized a distribution revenue requirement increase of $17.420 million, or 6.88%, from the company’s prior annual distribution revenue requirement.

CMP 2018 Rate Case

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

Represented a community-based wind farm in obtaining state regulatory approval for a long-term electricity contract.

Community-Based Wind Farm State Regulatory Approval for Long-Term Electricity Contract

We represented an energy provider in a commercial agreement to sell compressed natural gas (CNG) to commercial customers and a related $6 million convertible preferred equity investment in the CNG supplier.

Compressed Natural Gas Sales in Maine

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

Represented investor in all aspects of converting a defunct paper mill into a biomass facility, including development, financing, power sale, fuel purchase, and renewable energy credits.

Converting Defunct Paper Mill into Biomass Facility