Seth Hilton's 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. 


University of California, Davis, School of Law, J.D., 1995; Order of the Coif; Senior Articles Editor, U.C. Davis Law Review; Articles Editor, U.C. Davis Journal of International Law

Harvard College, B.A., 1992, cum laude



United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

United States District Courts for the Northern, Central, Southern and Eastern Districts of California


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:

  • Representation of owner of natural gas-fired generation in several of the CPUC’s Long-Term Procurement Plan proceedings.
  • Representation of natural gas fired generator in the CPUC proceeding to approve power purchase agreements executed by Southern California Edison (SCE).
  • Representation of numerous renewable developers in CPUC proceedings concerning implementation and administration of the California RPS program and advised developers on RPS rules and regulations.
  • Representation of energy storage developer in 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.
  • Representation of 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.
  • Representation of energy storage developer in proceedings to approve the results of SCE’s PRP RFO 2.
  • Representation of gas-fired generator in resource adequacy proceedings at the CPUC.
  • Representation of 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.
  • Representation of transmission developer in the California ISO’s transmission planning process and advised the developer on state and federal regulations governing transmission development in California.
  • Representation of energy storage developer in dispute over interconnection costs with PG&E.
  • Representation of solar developer in connection with dispute over affected system costs related to interconnection with the California ISO.
  • Representation of 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.
  • Representation of 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.
  • Representation of 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.
  • Representation of 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:

  • Representation of natural gas generation facility in arbitration of a dispute over payments for capacity under a power purchase tolling agreement with PG&E.
  • Representation of natural gas generation facility in dispute over payments for ancillary services under a power purchase tolling agreement with SCE.
  • Representation of 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.
  • Representation of 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.
  • Representation of 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. 
  • Representation of biomass generator in arbitration with its operations and maintenance provider over breach of the O&M Agreement.
  • Representation of biomass generator in dispute with fuel supplier in San Joaquin Superior Court. 
  • Representation of 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. 
  • Representation of 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.
  • Representation of biofuels company in dispute with former partner company, obtaining dismissal of partner company’s complaint in the Central District of California.
  • Representation of 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.
  • Representation of 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:

  • Representation of organic food company in breach of contract action in Contra Costa County Superior Court. Case settled on favorable terms on the day of trial.
  • Representation of 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.
  • Representation of 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.
  • Representation of franchisor in dispute with franchisee over breach of franchise agreement, obtaining favorable arbitration award at conclusion of binding arbitration.


Insights & Presentations

  • “Resource adequacy: The ‘significant changes’ expected in California’s main driver of utility BESS procurement” (quoted), Energy-Storage.news, February 6, 2024
  • “California Energy Commission To Consider Increasing Offshore Wind Megawatt Planning Goals” (quoted), New Project Media, August 12, 2023
  • “CPUC Considers How to Implement Income-Based Fixed Charges for Residential Electric Utility Service” (co-author), Daily Journal, July 13, 2023
  • Moderator, “Ensuring Resource Adequacy for Grid Reliability,” California Clean Energy Procurement Summit, May 3–4, 2023
  • “Industry Experts Discuss CPUC’s RA Framework Implementation Proposal” (quoted), New Project Media, March 25, 2023
  • “Stoel Rives Partner Discusses Impact of CPUC’s New 4,000 MW Procurement Decision” (quoted), New Project Media, March 10, 2023
  • “California Energy Commission to Consider Increasing Offshore Wind Megawatt Planning Goals” (quoted), New Project Media, August 12, 2022
  • “Newly Adopted RA Framework Might Impact Solar and Wind Value in California” (quoted), New Project Media, August 12, 2022
  • “California and Oregon Sail Forward on Offshore Wind” (co-author), POWER magazine, April 1, 2022
  • “Interconnection Process Is Key To Calif.’s Green Power Goals,” Law360, January 21, 2022
  • “Regulatory and Transmission-Related Issues” (co-author), Chapter 5, The Law of Solar (1st ed. 2008; updated, 6th ed. 2022)
  • “Litigation” (co-author), Chapter 13, The Law of Solar (6th ed. 2022)
  • “Regulatory and Transmission-Related Issues” (co-author), Chapter 13, The Law of Wind (9th ed. 2022)
  • “Litigation” (co-author), Chapter 14, The Law of Wind (4th ed. 2008; updated, 9th ed. 2022)
  • “Is California ready for the summers of 2022 and 2023?” POWERGRID International, December 7, 2021
  • “Supply chain woes won’t stop solar industry expansion” (co-author), Reuters Legal News, December 1, 2021
  • “Energy regulatory agencies working hard to keep the lights on,” Daily Journal, September 9, 2021
  • “Weather and climate change highlight challenges of deregulated retail energy markets” (co-author), Reuters Legal News, September 3, 2021
  • “Heading off power outages in California — a regulatory challenge” (co-author), Reuters Legal News, June 24, 2021
  • Moderator, “Impacts of the Changes to Procurement Policies on Meeting RA Requirements,” “Translating the IRP Plans into Procurements,” California Energy Virtual Summit, October 28–30, 2020
  • “Wildfire impacts and California’s energy supply” (co-author), POWERGRID International, October 13, 2020
  • “What caused California’s recent blackouts?” Utility Dive, August 25, 2020
  • Moderator, “Understanding Resource Adequacy (RA) Requirements and the Potential for a Statewide Central Buyer,” Community Choice Energy Summit, January 22–24 , 2020
  • “California load-serving entities experience increasing challenges in procuring resource adequacy capacity,” pv magazine, December 4, 2019
  • Moderator, “Lessons Learned from the 2018 IRP Cycle,” CA Renewable Energy Procurement Summit 2.0, October 28–30, 2019
  • “Ninth Circuit Strikes Down California ReMAT In Winding Creek Solar Case” (co-author), Solar Industry, August 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, September 12–14, 2018
  • Moderator, “Developing the Regulatory Framework to Support NWA Investments, ”Storage Week, February 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, November 16–17, 2017
  • Moderator, “Due Diligence: What to Look for in Evaluating Technologies and Warranties,” Storage Week, February 22–24, 2017
  • Moderator, “CAISO EIM Expansion and the Movement toward Western Integration,” Wind Power Finance & Investment Summit, February 7–9, 2017
  • Moderator, “Navigating the Intersection of EIM, ISO, and Bilateral Markets in the West,” Platts Western States Power and Gas Conference, November 29–30, 2016
  • Panelist, “CAISO Expansion,” Climate and Energy Law Symposium, November 4, 2016
  • Speaker, “The Federal and State Policy Backdrop for Energy Markets and Resource Development in California,” Electric Power in California, November 3, 2016
  • Moderator, “Utility Procurements of Energy Storage—Lessons Learned and Future Procurements” Storage Week, January 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, February 11, 2014


  • Included in The Best Lawyers in America® (Energy Regulatory Law), 2023–present
  • Appointed to the California State Bar’s Standing Committee on Federal Courts, 2003



  • American Bar Association, Member
  • Bar Association of San Francisco, Member
  • Conference of California Public Utility Counsel, Member
  • Power Association of Northern California, Member


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