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Electric Power & Utility Regulation

Vinson & Elkins has extensive experience in all regulatory aspects of electric power generation and transmission. Our Electric Regulatory lawyers are well known in the industry and are routinely called on to spearhead complex, multi-billion dollar projects in markets across the nation. Our team regularly represents transmission and distribution utilities, merchant transmission companies, electric generating companies, alternative energy companies, independent power producers, and private equity and venture capital investors. Our practice comprises complex transactional, regulatory, and litigation components, which allows us to support a full range of matters for our clients, including those associated with project development, investigations, operations, mergers and acquisitions, and execution of other electric generation and transmission projects across the nation.

Scope of Regulatory Services

Our global reputation as a leading energy law firm stems from considerable experience with many of the regulatory and business issues affecting our wide array of clients. Our lawyers navigate power and utility sector transactional issues involving requests for state and federal energy regulatory authorization, including rate/tariff authorizations, requests for certification of EWG status, and import/export permits. Our Litigation practice focuses on rate cases, contested applications for certificates of public convenience and necessity, requests for declaratory orders, environmental opposition, and complaint proceedings brought by various regulatory bodies.

We represent parties in contested proceedings, as well as parties under non-public and/or public investigation by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Office of Enforcement and other state regulatory bodies. We advise clients before the Department of Energy (DOE) in obtaining grants and loan guarantees for projects in the electric power industry, such as smart grid technology, and to advance better manufacturing. In addition, we represent and advise utilities and generators on compliance with state reliability standards and the reliability standards of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC).

Wide-Ranging Services to Manage Entire Projects

In addition to extensive regulatory experience, V&E capitalizes on deep industry knowledge across the firm to seamlessly coordinate all legal aspects of a matter. For example, when engaged to assist a client with significant greenfield development projects, it is common for that client to engage V&E to provide support from multiple disciplines, often including a team of attorneys with experience in regulatory, environmental, real estate, finance, and other areas. Our lawyers understand the regulatory and business issues affecting the development of projects and also understand the client’s business and adapt each approach to each individual client. We know the market and the legal nuances, and we have the deep resources to achieve our client’s goals.

Experience Highlights

  • Represented a power generation company in preparing an application for a loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the Energy Policy Act of 2005

  • Counsels the largest transmission and distribution electric utility in Texas in matters related to North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s Reliability Standards, including compliance and enforcement issues associated with critical infrastructure protection (CIP) requirements

  • Represents an energy joint venture in evaluation of potential issues related to compliance with North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”) Reliability Standards

  • Represented a private equity fund in a proceeding under Section 203 of the Federal Power Act for approval of a multibillion dollar merger to form a new publicly traded independent power company

  • Represented power marketer in complaint proceeding and administrative litigation before FERC related to allegations of market manipulation

  • Represented a Texas transmission-only electric utility in litigated proceedings to obtain a certificate of convenience and necessity, and amendments thereto, for proposed transmission facilities, including certification of the Houston Import Project and three projects associated with the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) initiative

  • Counseling and representing client in conjunction with regulatory aspects of $450 million financing in support of transmission line project construction

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