Energy and Public Utilities
The Firm has extensive expertise in energy and public utilities law. A special focus is the planning, financing and development of renewable energy projects and the sale of the generation and non-generation attributes (renewable energy certificates, emission reduction credits, greenhouse gas offsets and the like) from those projects. We represent municipal and private aggregators, governmental entities, energy companies, commercial and industrial consumers and non-profit institutions in a variety of matters before public utility commissions, energy facility siting boards, and other state and federal agencies. We are especially attuned to federal and state legislative developments focused on combating climate change and encouraging the development of, or investments in, wind, solar, low-head and other environmentally benign hydropower, sustainable biomass such as anaerobic digesters, landfill gas and other alternate energy projects as well as energy efficiency efforts around New England and elsewhere in the United States.
A sample of our recent work includes:
- The Firm serves as General Counsel to a nationally recognized “compact” of twenty-one towns and two counties with a combined population of a quarter of a million people on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts (the “Compact”) aggregating electric consumers to negotiate new, less expensive, power supply arrangements and implement innovative demand side management and renewable energy programs made possible by deregulation. The Firm assists the Compact in negotiating universal service power supply contracts that provide generation to over 160,000 Cape and Vineyard consumers. To learn more about the Compact’s power supply program, click here.
- The Firm assisted the Compact in the formation of a sister entity, the Cape & Vineyard Electric Cooperative, Inc., (the “Cooperative”) an electric cooperative expressly authorized under the Massachusetts Electric Restructuring Act, for the purposes of entering into long-term purchases for wholesale power and owning and operating renewable energy generation facilities such as community wind and solar projects. The Cooperative has successfully developed over twenty-five megawatts of solar photovoltaic generating capacity which are up and running and returning benefits to its member communities and their taxpayers and consumers.
- The Firm serves as special counsel to the Town of Sandwich, Massachusetts, in its role as host to the NRG Canal generating plant. As special counsel, the Firm assists the Town in the negotiation of Host Community Agreements and Tax Valuation Agreements with the owner of the generating plant. The Firm also represents the Town before the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board and the Cape Cod Commission in matters concerning the generation plant.
- The Firm represents a private non-profit organization, Energy Consumers Alliance of New England, Inc. (“ECANE”), offering green energy products to retail consumers. On behalf of ECANE (as well as other clients), the Firm has negotiated agreements to purchase renewable energy certificates from wind, solar, landfill gas and other renewable projects and helped to structure a variety of innovative investments designed to promote the development of clean energy resources. The Firm also represents ECANE in various matters before the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities regarding the competitive supply of green energy attributes to electric customers in the Commonwealth.
- The Firm represents communities negotiating “Host Community Agreements” with developers of new merchant wind and fossil-fueled power facilities, pipelines, and other energy projects, particularly as they have been proposed in conjunction with deregulation initiatives in New England, the Mid-Atlantic and other regions. Our strategies are varied and multi-faceted; they emphasize multi-forum proceedings and public outreach to incorporate community concerns and achieve local objectives and consider appropriate environmental mitigation, economic and tax considerations and other measures to assure that the public welfare is benefited, instead of adversely affected, by such projects.
- The Firm served as special counsel to a cooperative utility in Vermont, Washington Electric Cooperative, which successfully developed a landfill methane generating facility in Coventry, Vermont at the state’s largest landfill. We helped to negotiate a series of project agreements with the landfill owner a major EPC construction contract, operating agreements, and others necessary to support this innovative project which provides Co-Op members with extremely competitively priced electricity and the benefits of sales of millions of dollars of Renewable Energy Certificates the project generates. To see a video about the Firm’s role in the project, click here: WEC Story.
- The Firm successfully assisted a developer of landfill gas-to-energy plants negotiate a power contract, secure financing and permit a 12 MW plant that was a model from both an energy and environmental perspective. The Firm has represented this client with respect to other projects, including a similar project with a large municipality in Southern California and a limited partnership which has successfully developed projects with investments well in excess of $75 million.
- The Firm represents a New York landfill gas project which sold emission reduction credits to a new source in Connecticut. As these markets continue to mature, we expect activity to increase significantly and encourage further reductions in greenhouse gases.
- For many years, the Firm represented a national environmental organization in litigation before the New York Siting Board and the Environmental Protection Agency in opposition to a large proposed coal-burning power plant. The Firm prevailed on an appeal before the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court which was upheld by the New York Court of Appeals, in which the court overturned the permitting of the power plant on the grounds that it was not needed.
- We counseled a municipal utility in designing special rates imposing the cost of a system-wide upgrade on those customers causing the demand for the improvements. The Firm then successfully defended these special rates before the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.
- We have successfully challenged rate design and other practices of their electric utilities on behalf of business customer coalitions as well as the Cape Light Compact and consumer coalitions. This advocacy resulted in orders which saved tens of millions of dollars for these clients.
- We represented an international energy company which purchased and redeveloped a large urban district heating plant which efficiently and cleanly provides steam to neighboring technology, educational and other for and not-for-profit entities. This complex multi-party transaction also involved the negotiation of a set of interrelated agreements with the owner of a power plant which is the host for our client’s facility as well as customer agreements.