Overview

About Seth

Seth Hilton is a partner in the Energy Development practice group, and his practice is focused on the California energy sector, representing clients before California’s energy regulatory agencies and advising a diverse group of clients on energy regulatory issues. He also represents clients in arbitration, mediation and litigation throughout the United States. His regulatory practice includes representing clients before the California Public Utilities Commission and California Energy Commission, as well as in stakeholder proceedings at the California Independent System Operator. He has extensive experience in complex commercial litigation, including both bench and jury trials, and appellate matters, including successful arguments at the California Courts of Appeal and the Ninth Circuit. His clients include developers of thermal and renewable generation, energy storage developers, transmission developers, energy service providers, and oil and gas pipelines, shippers, and producers.

Following law school, Seth served as law clerk to the Honorable David V. Kenyon, United States District Court for the Central District of California. In 2003, Seth was appointed to serve on the California State Bar’s Standing Committee on Federal Courts. Prior to joining the firm, Seth was an associate with Morrison & Foerster in the firm’s Walnut Creek office.

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Experience

Experience

Electric Procurement and Energy Regulatory Matters

Seth advises electric generation and energy storage developers on energy regulatory matters, and represents them before various regulatory agencies, including before the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), on procurement-related matters. He also represents developers in negotiations of power purchase and energy storage agreements, and in proceedings to approve those agreements at the CPUC. Representative matters include:

  • Represented an owner of natural gas fired generation in several of the CPUC’s Long-Term Procurement Plan proceedings.
  • Represented natural gas fired generator in the CPUC proceeding to approve power purchase agreements executed by Southern California Edison (SCE).
  • Represented numerous renewable developers in California Public Utility Commission proceedings concerning implementation and administration of the California RPS program, and advised developers on RPS rules and regulations.
  • Represented an energy storage developer in the CPUC proceedings concerning energy storage procurement, and in stakeholder proceedings at the California Independent System Operator (ISO) impacting energy storage, including in the transmission planning process.
  • Negotiated power purchase agreements for renewable facilities with Peninsula Clean Energy and Clean Power Alliance.
  • Negotiated energy storage agreements with SCE from Edison’s ACES, ACES II, and Goleta/Moorpark solicitations.
  • Negotiated power purchase agreement with Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) on behalf of hydroelectric generation owner.
  • Advised clients concerning ReMAT and BioMAT power purchase agreements with PG&E.
  • Represented a coalition of developers in seeking changes to ReMAT at the CPUC, and in connection with legal challenges to ReMAT in Federal District Court for the Northern District of California.
  • Represented energy storage developer in proceedings to approve the results of SCE’s PRP RFO 2.
  • Represented gas-fired generator in resource adequacy proceedings at the CPUC.
  • Represented wind developer in connection with revisions to the Renewable Auction Mechanism proforma power purchase agreements.

Interconnection and Transmission Matters

Seth advises generation and transmission developers on interconnection and transmission issues, and represents developers in negotiations of interconnection agreements. Recent representative matters include:

  • Negotiated interconnection agreements with the California ISO and PG&E.
  • Negotiated wholesale distribution tariff interconnection agreements with SCE and PG&E.
  • Advised solar developer on interconnection agreement and transmission service agreement with irrigation district.
  • Represented a transmission developer in the California ISO’s transmission planning process, and advised the developer on state and federal regulations governing transmission development in California.
  • Represented energy storage developer in dispute over interconnection costs with PG&E.
  • Represented solar developer in connection with dispute over affected system costs related to interconnection with the California ISO.
  • Represented owner of out-of-state wind generation and transmission developer in the CPUC’s Long-Term Procurement Plan proceedings and in the California ISO’s transmission planning process.

Oil and Gas Matters

Seth advises oil and gas pipeline owners, shippers and oil and gas producers on California regulatory issues, and represents them in proceedings before the CPUC, including rate proceedings. Representative matters include:

  • Currently represent intrastate oil pipeline in rate case proceedings at the CPUC, including pending rate case application and several advice letters related to rate increases.
  • Represented oil pipeline in connection with an application to the CPUC for permission to include pipeline loss allowance in rates. 
  • Currently represent shipper on intrastate oil pipeline in several pending rate cases at the CPUC.
  • Represent noncore natural-gas transportation customer of PG&E in connection with dispute over transportation rates, including a pending complaint proceeding at the CPUC and obtaining a waiver from the automatic stay from the Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California.
  • Represented natural gas pipeline in various proceedings before the CPUC.
  • Obtained approval from the CPUC for the sale of utility pipeline assets, removal of some assets from utility service, and approval of tariffs for a new pipeline corporation in connection with the bankruptcy of a CPUC-regulated pipeline. 
  • Represented a California intrastate oil pipeline in connection with the sale of utility assets to another California intrastate oil pipeline, and obtained approval for the transaction from the CPUC.

Energy Arbitration and Mediation

Seth frequently represents generation and energy storage developers, and retail customers, in the mediation and arbitration of disputes with California utilities, including power purchase agreement disputes. Recent representative matters include:

  • Represented natural gas generation facility in arbitration of a dispute over payments for capacity under a power purchase tolling agreement with PG&E.
  • Represented natural gas generation facility in dispute over payments for ancillary services under a power purchase tolling agreement with SCE.
  • Represented solar developer in dispute with SCE over resource adequacy provisions in a power purchase agreement.
  • Represent retail customer in dispute with SCE over substation replacement costs.
  • Represented retail customer in dispute with SCE in dispute concerning the costs of transformer replacements. 

Energy Litigation

In addition to disputes with California utilities, Seth also represents energy industry clients in arbitration and litigation across the United States, involving a wide array of diverse issues. Representative matters include: 

  • Lead trial counsel in Orange County Superior Court jury trial of dispute between owner of a Southern California wind farm and its operations and maintenance provider. Prevailed at trial and on appeal.
  • Represent wind farm developer in dispute over asset purchase agreement with subsequent purchaser in the Second Judicial District, Albany County, Wyoming. 
  • Represented developer of a wind farm in West Virginia in a dispute with its EPC contractor. Matter was arbitrated in Atlanta, Georgia and involved related legal proceedings in state court in West Virginia. 
  • Represented biomass generator in arbitration with its operations and maintenance provider over breach of the O&M Agreement.
  • Represent biomass generator in dispute with fuel supplier in San Joaquin Superior Court. 
  • Represented generator at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in defense of a claim for refunds pursued by the California Attorney General, the CPUC, SCE and PG&E, related to a capacity contract signed following the end of the Western Electricity Crisis. Matter is still pending at FERC. 
  • Represented solar developer in litigation in San Francisco Superior Court concerning memorandum of understanding and loan agreement for the development of several solar projects in California.
  • Represented biofuels company in dispute with former partner company, obtaining dismissal of partner company’s complaint in the Central District of California.
  • Represented energy service providers and customers in disputes concerning direct access service contracts, including successful defense of $69 million breach of contract claim filed against an energy service provider.
  • Represented wholesale power providers in an interpleader action brought by the Colorado River Commission of Nevada concerning alleged breaches of retail power contracts by its retail customers.

Commercial Litigation

Seth also represents clients in complex commercial litigation in areas other than energy litigation. Representative matters include:

  • Represented organic food company in breach of contract action in Contra Costa County Superior Court. Case settled on favorable terms on the day of trial.
  • Represented organic food company in breach of contract action with nursery in San Diego Superior Court, including successful defense at trial, and full recovery of attorney fees expended in the matter from the opposing party.
  • Represented technology company in appeal from dismissal of securities class action in the Northern District of California, successfully arguing before a Ninth Circuit appellate panel that the dismissal should be affirmed.
  • Represented franchisor in dispute with franchisee over breach of franchise agreement, obtaining favorable arbitration award at conclusion of binding arbitration.
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Honors

Honors & Activities

  • Appointed to the California State Bar’s Standing Committee on Federal Courts (2003) (past)
  • Member, American Bar Association
  • Member, Bar Association of San Francisco
  • Member, Conference of California Public Utility Counsel
  • Member, Power Association of Northern California
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Insights & Presentations

Insights & Presentations

  • Moderator, “Lessons Learned from the 2018 IRP Cycle,” CA Renewable Energy Procurement Summit 2.0, Oct. 28–30, 2019
  • Ninth Circuit Strikes Down California ReMAT In Winding Creek Solar Case” (coauthor), Solar Industry, Aug. 8, 2019
  • Moderator, “Advancing Community Solar in the Current Procurement Landscape,” California Renewable Energy Procurement Summit, April 30–May 2, 2019
  • Executive Exchange Chair; moderator,“Regionalization – What’s Next for the Delivery of Renewables to Load Centers?,”10th Annual Transmission Summit West, Sept. 12–14, 2018
  • Moderator,“Developing the Regulatory Framework to Support NWA Investments,”Storage Week, Feb. 27–March 1, 2018
  • Moderator,“The Future of Gas in the Western US Amid the Goal toward Complete Renewables,” Platts Western States Power and Gas Conference,Nov. 16–17, 2017
  • Moderator, “Due Diligence: What to Look for in Evaluating Technologies and Warranties,” Storage Week, Feb. 22–24, 2017
  • Moderator, “CAISO EIM Expansion and the Movement toward Western Integration,” Wind Power Finance & Investment Summit, Feb. 7–9, 2017
  • Moderator, “Navigating the Intersection of EIM, ISO, and Bilateral Markets in the West,” Platts Western States Power and Gas Conference, Nov. 29–30, 2016
  • Panelist, “CAISO Expansion,” Climate and Energy Law Symposium, Nov. 4, 2016
  • Speaker, “The Federal and State Policy Backdrop for Energy Markets and Resource Development in California,” Electric Power in California, Nov. 3, 2016
  • Moderator, “Utility Procurements of Energy Storage—Lessons Learned and Future Procurements” Storage Week, Jan. 25–27, 2016
  • Chair, California Energy Summit, May 28–30, 2014
  • Chair, Power Industry Transformation Summit, April 2–3, 2014
  • Workshop Chair, “Understanding the California Market for Energy Storage,” and Speaker, “Update on Procurement Plans, Policies and Procedures under California’s AB 2514,” 7th Annual Storage Week, Feb. 11, 2014
  • Moderator, “Playing in the New California Energy Storage Market,” California Energy Summit, Dec. 5, 2013
  • Speaker, “Changing Structural Elements in the Electric Business and the Resulting Pressure to Move Away from Traditional Utility Models: Elements That Are Gaining Traction,” Energy in California, Nov. 4, 2013
  • Speaker, “Renewable Energy Credits: What sources qualify; what is tradable, how the market works; opportunities for commercial customers,” Toxics Regulation for Retailers and Consumer Products Manufacturers, April 24, 2012
  • Speaker, “FERC Order 784,” Infocast Webinar, Oct. 2, 2013
  • Speaker, “In-State vs. Out-of-State Renewable Resources to Satisfy RPS Requirements,” CALIFORNIA RPS: Meeting the Mandate, Oct. 24, 2011
  • Panelist, “Tradable Renewable Energy Credits in California,” Infocast Webinar, March 1, 2011
  • Moderator, “Developments in California’s Renewable Power Market,” 6th Annual California Power Market Forum, Dec. 6, 2010
  • Moderator, “REC Trading in California,” Infocast Webinar, July 15, 2010
  • “Tradable Renewable Energy Credits in California” (coauthor), The Electricity Journal, Vol. 23, Issue 6, July 2010
  • Chair, “New Legislation for California Renewable Energy: Implications for California’s Energy Future,” Law Seminars International, Nov. 4, 2009
  • Moderator, “California Distributed Solar Market,” Infocast Webinar, Sept. 22, 2009
  • Chair, “Climate Control Regimes in California and the West: Opportunities in Allowance and Offset Markets,” San Francisco, California, Sept. 2008
  • Speaker, “Structuring Global Warming and Green Business Practice Groups,” Bar Association of San Francisco, April 2008
  • “When Bad Projects Happen to Good People” (coauthor), The Law of Biofuels (2nd ed. 2008)
  • “Wind Litigation” (coauthor), The Law of Wind (4th ed. 2008)
  • “Regulatory and Transmission-Related Issues” (coauthor), The Law of Solar (1st ed. 2008; updated, 5th ed. 2017)
  • Chair and speaker, “Opportunities Under the West’s New Climate Change and Renewables Rules,” symposium, Clean Power in the West Summit, Nov. 2007
  • Speaker, “Global Warming Initiatives in the Western States: Impacts on the Electric Energy Industry and Green Building Industry,” Infocast Webinar, Oct. 2007
  • Speaker, “California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 and the Electric Energy Industry,” Western Power Supply Forum II, Dec. 2006
  • “The California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006” Environmental Liability Reporter, Nov. 2006
  • “The Impact of California’s Global Warming Legislation on the Electric Utility Industry,” The Electricity Journal, Vol. 19, Issue 9, Nov. 2006
  • Speaker, “California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 and the Electric Energy Industry,” Infocast Webinar, Sept. 2006
  • “CPUC Adopts Backstop Cost Recovery Rules for Transmission Necessary to Meet California’s RPS Goals,” EnergyPulse, July 2006
  • “DC Circuit Court of Appeals Holds District Court Has Initial Jurisdiction Over PURPA Dispute,” EnergyPulse, July 2005
  • “Ninth Circuit Declines Review of BPA Decision to Trigger Rate Adjustment Clause,” EnergyPulse, July 2005



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