Dickstein Shapiro’s multiservice Energy Practice offers a complete range of services to companies that develop, finance, operate, acquire, sell, restructure, or manage large energy infrastructure projects, including renewable and conventional power plants, transmission lines, pipelines, and seawater desalination plants. The practice has second-to-none capabilities and experience, particularly with respect to federal and state electric and gas regulation, domestic and international energy transactions, infrastructure project development, litigation, compliance, and enforcement matters. Dickstein Shapiro’s clients include competitive power producers and transmission companies, integrated utilities, financial institutions, natural gas pipelines, gas storage providers, LNG import and export developers, energy marketers, trade groups, energy consumers, and governmental entities. The firm also represents suppliers and purchasers of water, water treatment services, and large seawater desalination projects in connection with project permitting and financing, construction, contract negotiations, and ongoing operational issues.
Dickstein Shapiro is recognized as a leader in providing high-quality legal advice and services to its energy industry clients. Chambers USA has consistently ranked the Energy Practice and its attorneys among the best in the country saying the lawyers are “very creative, industry savvy, and strategically minded,” “take the view that ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of any cure,’” and “they look at things from our point of view and provide solutions.” The 2013 edition of U.S. News and Best Lawyers ranks Dickstein Shapiro as a Tier 1 national firm for energy work and the 2012 edition of Legal 500: The Clients Guide to the US Legal Profession ranks Dickstein Shapiro as a leading firm in energy litigation and energy regulatory law. The firm was recognized with the Rising Star Award in the category of “Best USA Law Firm: Project Finance, Infrastructure, & Energy” at the June 2011 International Legal Alliance Summit and Awards and The Energy Daily recently named the practice as one of the Most Dynamic Energy Practices in the United States. It ranks among the top firms chosen by energy suppliers and their primary counsel, among the top firms selected by utilities companies, and among the top firms that clients identify as being on the “short list” of law firms they would consider, as reported by the BTI Consulting Group in its Client Relationship Scorecard for Law Firms, a survey based on interviews with more than 1,000 Fortune 1000 general counsel and key decision makers responsible for retaining outside legal counsel. In addition, attorneys in the Energy Practice have been consistently recognized by Chambers USA, Chambers Global, Legal 500, The Best Lawyers in America, and Lawdragon.
Dickstein Shapiro provides the full gamut of energy regulatory services and appears regularly before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Department of Energy (DOE), and other federal and state commissions and regulatory agencies. Among other matters, we advise our clients in connection with obtaining approval of transmission and sales tariffs; requests for proposals; rate cases; market power studies and triennial updates; dispositions of jurisdictional assets; negotiations and approvals of reliability must-run (RMR) contracts; approvals of affiliate sales; negotiating and drafting engineering, procurement, and/or construction (EPC), operations & maintenance (O&M), generator interconnection, and other project agreements; the rules and pricing for station power delivery service; developing tariffs for reactive power compensation; exempt wholesale generator status approvals; qualifying facility certification; regulation of distributed generation; construction of transmission, generation, pipeline, seawater desalination, and gas storage facilities; local distribution company bypass; stranded cost recovery; franchise exclusivity; eminent domain and utility rights-of-way issues; retail access rules; public notice and electronic bulletin board requirements; standards of conduct; codes of conduct; interlocking directorates; and prudence issues. By virtue of its decades-long experience in representing both existing and new electric and gas suppliers, transmission operators, developers, and numerous other energy industry participants, the firm is uniquely positioned to help its clients negotiate the full range of electric, water, and natural gas supply, transportation, interconnection, and other commercial arrangements. Additionally, the practice has experience navigating the ever-changing regulatory environment and the new and often complex and uncertain rules and structures that are so common in today’s energy and water industries.
The firm’s Energy Practice represents energy companies, lenders and investors in connection with the acquisition, sale, and financing of energy companies and energy assets; the structuring and development of energy projects; the drafting and negotiating of all types of energy-related contracts; and in obtaining governmental approvals for the development, construction, operation, and restructuring of energy and other infrastructure projects. The firm’s practice includes both domestic and international transactions and involves companies and facilities engaged in the generation, marketing, transmission, and distribution of electricity; the production, storage, transmission, and distribution of natural gas; the liquefaction, storage, shipment, and regasification of LNG; the export and import of natural gas and LNG; and the treatment, processing, and desalination of water for consumption and cooling.
Dickstein Shapiro is well suited to handle the unique issues confronting developers of wind, solar, hydroelectric, biomass, and other renewable energy sources. Dickstein Shapiro regularly represents its energy clients, which include renewable energy project developers, merchant generators and transmission companies, marketers, investor-owned utilities, and trade associations, before FERC and the various state public service commissions throughout the United States.
The firm has unique experience with regard to the purchase and sale of nuclear power plants, the transfer of nuclear plant licenses, and the storage and disposal of spent nuclear fuel. Prior to joining Dickstein Shapiro, a number of firm attorneys worked at the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy and various other entities involved with the nuclear power industry. Most recently, the firm has represented the Federation of Nuclear Power Companies of Japan before President Obama’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future. The Blue Ribbon Commission was created to examine, among other things, alternatives to Yucca Mountain for long-term nuclear waste storage. After the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in Japan on March 11, 2011, the firm has helped to guide the Federation and other private entities through the implications of those events for Japan and for the world’s nuclear industry. The firm has also represented a number of governmental and economic development agencies with regard to initiatives to implement key recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission.
Compliance, Investigations, and Enforcement
Dickstein Shapiro is at the forefront of the energy industry’s response to improper market practices and implementation of rigorous compliance programs. The firm has unsurpassed experience in representing clients in internal and regulatory investigations and in designing and implementing compliance programs and codes of conduct which conform to industry best practices. The firm has conducted internal investigations of alleged non-compliance with market rules and trading and price reporting practices and has represented clients and obtained favorable settlements in investigations by FERC, the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and other federal and state enforcement authorities.
Market Development and Implementation
Dickstein Shapiro is a leader in energy industry restructuring and is actively involved in every region of the United States on a daily basis. The firm participates in the formulation of the laws, rules, and policies that govern restructured power pools, power and ancillary services markets, transmission planning and operations, independent system operators, and regional transmission organizations. Dickstein Shapiro counsels clients and represents them in both regulatory and judicial proceedings on all types of energy matters, including issues related to the transition of the energy sector from a tightly regulated, vertically integrated industry to one of unbundled and competitive markets and, in some cases, back to a more regulated market.
System Reliability and Operations
Dickstein Shapiro also represents clients on matters pertaining to system reliability, planning, and operations, including transmission planning, system dispatch, and power procurement matters. The firm assists in contracting for interconnection and transmission reliability studies, the formation and operation of control areas, the development and implementation of both national and regional electric and gas reliability standards, the negotiation of local area reliability agreements, and the use of distributed generation and demand-side management to help maintain reliability.
Dickstein Shapiro has unmatched experience in energy-related litigation and settlement negotiations. FERC and state commissions increasingly are relying on administrative litigation and evidentiary hearings to resolve a broad spectrum of energy industry issues, ranging from traditional rate cases, to proposed market design changes, to allegations of non-compliance with market rules. The firm represents parties in every type of energy-related litigation at FERC, including hearings over rates for RMR units in New England and PJM, hearings on proposals for new capacity market designs in New England and PJM, hearings arising out of the 2000-2001 California energy crisis, a hearing on the implementation of allocation of facility costs for new generator connections in New York, and station power netting rules before the federal courts. In addition to complex regulatory litigation before agencies and in trial and appellate courts, the firm represents clients in securities claims, class action suits, antitrust actions, bankruptcy proceedings, environmental matters, takings claims, contract disputes, construction litigation and arbitration, insurance coverage, and stockholder litigation.
Dickstein Shapiro has represented regulated utilities, independent generators, and other energy clients on a wide range of energy-related tax matters. This includes all of the tax issues that arise in connection with the purchase, sale, financing, and operation of electric generating facilities, natural gas pipelines, “midstream” natural gas processing facilities, and natural gas storage and distribution facilities, both in the United States and abroad.
In addition, Dickstein Shapiro’s experience in the area of contributions-in-aid-of-construction (CIAC) is second to none. The firm’s attorneys have advised both utilities and generators in connection with the drafting and negotiation of the tax provisions in numerous interconnection and other agreements. In addition to having obtained numerous private letter rulings with respect to CIAC matters, the firm has represented parties in securing rulings dealing with the tax treatment of transmission and energy credits and allowances.
The firm represents companies in energy-related legislative matters before federal and state governments. Firm attorneys have led coalitions of energy producers and consumers in matters including electric energy industry restructuring, Federal Power Act and Clean Air Act amendments, and Public Utility Holding Act reforms. Dickstein Shapiro’s team of attorneys and public affairs professionals has a collective background that comes from years of highly varied public service, and includes two former U.S. Senators; three former members of the U.S. House of Representatives—including Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and Representative Albert R. Wynn, who served on the U.S. House Committee on Energy & Commerce; the former Chief Counsel for Oversight and Investigation for the U.S. House Committee on Energy & Commerce; and others who have held senior positions at the White House, the DOE and other Cabinet departments, on congressional staffs, and in state government.