Energy Litigation

Energy generation and consumption in the U.S. are transforming as pressure mounts to reduce CO2 emissions and drive efficiency. Increasing development of renewable energy, a shift from coal to natural gas, and tighter environmental regulation are moving the world in the direction of a clean energy economy. With innovation and opportunity comes disputes between businesses, regulators, competitors and consumers. 
 

Key Contacts

Jeremy D. Sacks Partner Portland, OR
Cameron L. Sabin Partner Salt Lake City, UT
Andrew P. Moratzka Partner Minneapolis, MN
Seth D. Hilton Partner San Francisco, CA
See all contacts
Overview

We help developers, producers and consumers of electricity, oil, natural gas and renewable energy resolve disputes and claims to keep business moving forward. Our cross-discipline team of litigators and trial attorneys is integrated with attorneys across our firm who focus on providing legal counsel to energy businesses. This collaborative approach brings transactional, compliance and defense perspectives to everything we do. When we negotiate an agreement, we optimize it to stand up to future challenges. 

Our Services

  • Business torts
  • FERC enforcement and investigations
  • State Public Utility Commission actions
  • Contract disputes
  • Failure to develop
  • Antitrust and unfair competition claims
  • Permitting and land use challenges
  • Environmental litigation
  • Accident or injury
  • Protected species take and avian mortality disputes
  • Royalty challenges
  • Criminal investigations
  • Representation before administrative agencies
  • Mediations and arbitrations
  • Appellate litigation
  • Indian tribal law and Alaska Native Corporation disputes 

Our clients are upstream, midstream and downstream oil and gas producers that operate businesses related to pipelines, drilling, wind turbines, solar panels, and other methods of energy generation and distribution, and large industrial consumers of energy. We defend your interests before local, state and federal agencies that regulate energy industry activity, in civil cases filed in state and federal courts, and in criminal charges against companies and individuals. While we’re constantly prepared if your case progresses to trial and appeal, we fully appreciate the priority to resolve disputes outside a courtroom. We have significant experience negotiating favorable settlements and presenting winning arguments in mediation and arbitration forums. 

Typical energy issues we defend include disputes related to drilling rights and contracts, joint operating agreements, natural resource leases, processing agreements, land use and permitting challenges, and citizen suits. Our experience and reputation as a major energy industry law firm is a significant advantage when negotiating with regulators or presenting your case in any venue.

Matters
  • Represented a wind generation operator and developer in litigation with a California windpark owner over operation and maintenance contracts, and obtained jury verdict in our client's favor after a month-long trial in Orange County Superior Court. We also represented the client in the subsequent appeal to the Fourth District Court of Appeal, successfully defending the judgment and obtaining an award of attorneys' fees on remand to the trial court.
  • Represent Avangrid in defense of a claim for refunds pursued by the California Attorney General, the California Public Utilities Commission and the state’s two largest investor-owned utilities.  The claim relates to a capacity contract signed by Avangrid in July 2001, following the end of Western Energy Crisis, and the complainants have asserted that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission should order Avangrid to pay refunds under the contract due to the high prices and manipulation allegedly affecting the California market at the time.  The case is on remand from the U.S. Supreme Court’s Morgan Stanley ruling in 2008.
  • Represent the owner of the Bottle Rock Power Plant, a geothermal power plant in Lake County, California, with a nameplate capacity of 55 MW. We have advised the client on licensing and permitting a steam field expansion project, including defending and settling a lawsuit challenging the approval of the steamfield expansion. We are currently defending an administrative complaint and a separate lawsuit filed against the project related to decommissioning funding, advising the client on a petition to amend its state operating license to address the decommissioning funding dispute, and assisting the client with efforts to obtain an extension of an existing steamfield use permit.
  • Represented EDF Renewable Energy (formerly enXco) in a dispute with Indiana Power and Light (IPL). IPL sought to terminate a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with a Minnesota wind farm being developed by EDF. IPL claimed to have received an unfavorable order from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission and considered this to be reasonable grounds for termination of their PPA, but following our arbitration complaint, IPL rescinded the termination.
  • Extensive involvement in major gas and electric utility rate case proceedings on behalf of large industrial consumers, most recently the following:
    • In the Matter of the Application of Black Hills Power, Inc., for Authority to Increase Electric Rates.
    • In the Matter of the Application of Northern States Power Company, a Minnesota Corporation, for Authority to Increase Rates for Electric Service in Minnesota. (The first multiyear rate plan filed under Minn. Stat. § 216B.16 subd. 19).
    • In the Matter of a Petition by Minnesota Energy Resources Corporation for Authority to Increase Natural Gas Rates in Minnesota.
    • In the Matter of the Application of Northern States Power Company, a Minnesota Corporation, for Authority to Increase Rates for Electric Service in Minnesota.
    • In the Matter of the Application of Black Hills Power, Inc., for Authority to Increase Its Electric Rates.
  • On behalf of a group of large industrial consumers, participate in energy regulatory reform in the Minnesota e21 Initiative.
  • In the Matter of the Application of Cheyenne Light, Fuel & Power Company for Authority to Establish a Large Power Contract Service Tariff, Wyoming Public Service Commission, Docket No. 20003-146-ET-15 (Record No. 14242).  We represented Microsoft Corporation in supporting approval of a tariff that allows Microsoft to enter into a special contract with Cheyenne Light, Fuel & Power to supply its large incremental load for its data center in Cheyenne, Wyoming, through market purchases of power.
  • Represented Northeast Kansas Bioenergy, LLC, against a prominent engineering firm in an action in Kansas City, Missouri, for breach of an engineering services agreement and overcharges relating to our client's planned development of a biodiesel/starch ethanol plant in Kansas. The case settled for a value satisfactory to our client
  • Represented Otoka Energy in the permitting and environmental review for the repowering of the Buena Vista Biomass Project, from a 18.5 MW lignite cogeneration facility in Amador County, California, to a woody biomass-fueled facility. Our work included assisting with the preparation, review and approval of environmental documents, a conditional use permit, an authority to construct permit and other entitlements from the County, the Amador Air District and other involved public agencies. We successfully handled multiple administrative appeals on behalf of the applicant and served as defense counsel in two lawsuits challenging the project in Amador County Superior Court.
  • In the Matter of Application of Crimson California Pipeline L.P. for Authority to Increase Rates for its Crude Oil Pipeline Services, Application No. 16-03-009 (filed March 11, 2016), Before the Public Utilities Commission of the State of California. Application to increase oil pipeline rates approximately 60% in the aggregate. We represent a major shipper on the Crimson California pipeline, challenging the proposed rate increase on a wide range of ratemaking issues.
  • We represented PCC opposite Tesla Energy Services for the installation of, and load management services available from, an on-site battery at an industrial site. 
  • In re: Ryckman Creek Resources, LLC, et al., United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, Case No. 16-10292. Chapter 11 filing by Ryckman Creek Resources, parent of Ryckman Creek Storage Company, owner/operator of a natural gas storage facility in Uinta County, Wyoming. We represent a gas company which was in the process of terminating its precedent agreement with Ryckman for the provision of firm storage services when Ryckman filed for bankruptcy.
  • Questar Gas Company and Wexpro Company v. QEP Field Services Company, et al., Third Judicial District Court, Salt Lake County, State of Utah, Case No. 120902929.  Contract dispute involving gas gathering agreement.  Case settled favorably after our clients, Questar Gas and Wexpro, obtained partial summary judgment on some of their claims and rejecting some of defendants’ defenses.
  • In the Matter of the Joint Notice and Application of Questar Gas Company and Dominion Resources, Inc. of Proposed Merger of Questar Corporation and Dominion Resources, Inc., Utah Public Service Commission, Docket No. 16-057-01.  We represented Questar Gas Company in gaining approval of the merger of its parent, Questar Corporation, with Dominion Resources, Inc.
  • We represented RES Americas when they disputed a utility’s attempt to self-fund use network upgrades under a Facilities Construction Agreement.  Self-funding would have cost RES approximately $2 million more in costs.  We represented RES at FERC, and RES prevailed.
  • In the Matter of the Application of Rocky Mountain Power for Approval of a General Rate Increase in Its Retail Electric Utility Service Rates in Wyoming of $32.4 Million per Year or 4.5 Percent, Wyoming Public Service Commission, Docket No. 20000-469-ER-15 (Record No. 14076).  We represented Rocky Mountain Power in this general rate case.
  • In the Matter of the Application of Rocky Mountain Power for Approval of Purchase and Transfer Agreement and Power Supply Agreement with Navajo Tribal Utility Authority and Amendment of Certificate of Convenience and Necessity, Utah Public Service Commission, Docket No. 15-035-84.  We represented Rocky Mountain Power in gaining approval of a transaction to sell its facilities and transfer its customers on portion of the Navajo Nation in Utah to the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority.
  • Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc., FERC Docket No. ER16-1578, MISO filed revisions to System Support Resources (“SSR”) tariff and procedures. We represent an electric power company who intervened and commented in opposition to certain proposed filing requirements. A favorable order was issued by FERC on August 19, 2016. Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc., 156 FERC ¶ 61,116 (2016).
  • Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc., FERC Docket No. ER16-1480, MISO filed SSR Agreement between MISO and our client for the provision of SSR reliability service during the 12-month term of April 16, 2016, through April 15, 2017. In response to protests, FERC set issues relating to our client’s compensation for SSR service for hearing and settlement judge procedures.
  • Michigan Public Service Commission, et al. v. FERC,  United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Case Nos. 15-1049, et al., consolidated appeal of FERC orders addressing the proposed methodology for allocating SSR costs among load serving entities in MISO. Case currently being held in abeyance pending completion of underlying FERC proceedings. We represent an intervenor in the appeal. 
  • Numerous appearances before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on such matters as utility resource planning, community solar gardens, certificate of need proceedings, the Minnesota solar energy standard, rate design and renewable energy credits, including the following recent dockets:
    • In the Matter of Northern States Power Company - Minnesota’s Application for Approval of its 2016-2030 Resource Plan.
    • In the Matter of the Petition of Northern States Power Company d/b/a/ Xcel Energy for Approval of Its Proposed Community Solar Garden Program.
    • In the Matter of a Commission Inquiry into Privacy Policies of Rate Regulated Energy Utilities.
    • In the Matter of the Implementation of Solar Energy Standards Pursuant to 2013 Amendments to Minnesota Statutes, Section 216B.1619.
    • In the Matter of the Request of Minnesota Power for a Certificate of Need for the Great Northern Transmission Line Project.
    • In the Matter of the Investigation into Environmental and Socioeconomic Costs Under Minn. Stat. 216B.2422, subd.3.
    • In the Matter of Minnesota Power's Application for Approval of its 2013-2027 Resource Plan.
  • Litigated and negotiated dispute before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission regarding application of the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act.
  • Power contract negotiations, including development of the 2015 Minnesota energy-intensive trade-exposed rate legislation, associated tariffs and underlying electric service agreements.
Team
Insights & Presentations
×
Saved Pages

Use the arrows to arrange content.  Download pages as a .pdf file or share links via email..

{{ item.Title }} {{ item.AttorneyPosition }}, {{ item.AttorneyLocation }} , C. {{ item.AttorneyCell }} , P. {{ item.AttorneyPhone }} , F. {{ item.AttorneyFax }} {{ item.TypeText }} Remove
You have no pages saved
            {{ state | json }}