With more than 80 attorneys working in nearly every facet of the energy sector in the United States and much of the world, Perkins Coie helps clients structure and negotiate all aspects of energy transactions, navigate the complex regulatory frameworks governing the energy industry and litigate issues influencing the energy sector.
Our clients range from some of the world’s largest energy companies and utilities to promising startups. Backed by a national practice spanning the West Coast and extending to Washington, D.C., Perkins Coie serves clients active in traditional regulated markets as well as those operating in newly deregulated markets or implementing cutting-edge energy technologies.
Areas of Focus
Energy Clients and Scope of Practice
Perkins Coie energy attorneys provide significant knowledge, value and flexibility, whether they are representing clients directly or working with experienced local counsel. We represent clients participating in many sectors of the energy industry, including:
- Renewable and other independent power producers
- Investor-owned and publicly owned electric and natural gas utilities and pipelines
- Producers and refiners of natural gas, including LNG, biofuel and oil
- Electric transmission owners and developers
- Lenders and equity investors
- Public agencies
- Native American tribes
- Industry trade associations
- Electric and other alternative-fuel vehicle companies
- Energy storage, efficiency and demand response companies
- Large-scale energy end users
To help our energy clients achieve their goals, we leverage our firm’s full-service capabilities, which include a multidisciplinary bench of Perkins Coie lawyers. Areas of related counsel include environmental, corporate, securities, tax, real estate, intellectual property, labor and employment, insurance, construction, government contracts, political law, litigation—including arbitration and other methods of dispute resolution—and appellate practices, which we draw upon as appropriate.
Perkins Coie lawyers have assisted clients with development of energy projects for more than 70 years, working with them from the earliest stages of development through the environmental review and approval process and the ultimate decommissioning of a facility.
Our practice includes assisting clients in site selection, acquisition, permitting, litigation, decommissioning and such energy projects as:
- Electric-generating facilities fueled by natural gas, coal, oil, hydro, solar, biomass, landfill gas, wind, geothermal and tidal resources
- LNG facilities and takeaway pipelines
- Electric transmission lines and substations
- Pipelines and storage facilities for natural gas and petroleum products
- Offshore energy and renewables (wind, wave, and Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC))
Skilled at counseling at the intersection of energy and environmental regulations governing the development of energy projects, we successfully help clients navigate this regulatory maze to obtain approvals for some of the most complex energy projects in the country.
Energy attorneys have experience in the siting of energy projects on federal, tribal, state and private lands throughout the country. The practice’s assets include attorneys who previously served with the Department of Interior, the U.S. Forest Service and the Environmental Protection Agency as well as litigators well versed in claims relating to energy project approvals and permits.
Perkins Coie attorneys advise clients on administrative and regulatory law governing the energy industry, including litigation before administrative and judicial bodies, legislative drafting and advocacy, permitting and licensing, policy and reporting requirements.
Our team regularly appears before state regulatory commissions throughout the country in regulatory proceedings in the natural gas and electric utility, telecommunications and water utility industries. Equally creative and committed in their problem-solving approaches to
complex, multiparty proceedings, our regulatory attorneys have experience in proceedings concerning:
- Gas and electric general rate cases, and power or gas cost-adjustment or tracker cases
- Energy facility licensing
- Cutting-edge policy issues, including gas-electric integration, renewable energy development and integration, and energy efficiency
- Pipeline and gas storage facility certification
- Accounting petitions, including petitions for approval to transfer property
- Merger applications and transfers of control
- Customer complaint cases and regulatory enforcement actions regarding rates, terms or conditions of service, or alleged tariff or other violations
- Pipeline and electric transmission safety
- Judicial appeals of administrative decisions and permits
Our California energy practice is noteworthy in the regulatory sphere, where we apply a deep understanding of the regulatory and political framework governing energy in California and its authoritative overseers: the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), California Independent System Operator (CAISO) and California Energy Commission.
Perkins Coie’s CPUC bench is among the deepest in the state. For decades, our CPUC specialists have helped clients achieve success in the complex and often political environment of the CPUC, which provides oversight of public utilities providing energy, telecommunications, water and transportation services. View a full overview of our CPUC capabilities here.
Perkins Coie represents clients before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) and state regulatory commissions on matters involving electric power, natural gas, crude oil and petroleum products.
We represent large national investor-owned and publicly owned utilities as well as startup independent power producers and renewable energy companies in both regulated and unregulated settings. Our extensive experience includes:
- Natural gas-electric coordination
- The Federal Power Act, from hydroelectric licensing, electric transmission and interconnection to generation and power marketing
- Reliability standards enforced by NERC and regional reliability entities
- Regulation of natural gas, including the Natural Gas Act, Natural Gas Policy Act and Pipeline Safety Act
- Development, interconnection and integration of renewable resource projects
- Certificates for electric and natural gas projects from FERC and state commissions
- Regulation of crude oil and products pipelines under the Interstate Commerce Act
- Counseling energy companies on issues arising under the Dodd-Frank Act
In our counsel related to electricity, we cover the issues presented by federal regulation of wholesale sales transactions, state regulation of siting and cost recovery of facilities serving retail customers, and compliance at all levels, including the NERC reliability standards.
Interstate and intrastate pipeline and storage facilities and local distribution companies face myriad issues and we address these concerns. We also advise clients in the evolving and expanding markets for LNG and biofuels being used as transportation fuels and supporting electric generation and industrial uses in remote locations. Our counsel includes advising natural gas companies and LNG suppliers on LNG terminal construction and supply agreements with end users and electric utilities, including through bunker barges and ISO containers.
For clients involved with crude oil and petroleum products, Perkins Coie’s experience includes the traditionally light-handed regulation at FERC as well as emerging issues in service terms, conditions and rate design. We also counsel clients in the expanding products markets created by the expansive shale plays in development in the United States.
Perkins Coie has decades-long experience representing clients in the oil and gas industry. From the wellhead to the burner tip, the legal issues that our oil and gas attorneys focus on include concerns related to the exploration, production, transportation and storage of crude oil, natural gas, petroleum products and coal bed methane.
We have advised on a wide range of oil and gas matters for such entities as:
- Oil field services companies
- Pipeline operators
- Storage and distribution systems
- Private equity firms
- Commercial lenders
- Alaska Native Corporations and other Native American entities
Areas of counsel include matters involving mergers, acquisitions and dispositions, joint ventures, financings, contracts and services agreements, down-hole operational issues, environmental compliance, federal, state and local regulatory matters, ownership disputes and operational disputes. We regularly advise clients on complex issues related to upstream, midstream and downstream project development, including the siting of production, storage, processing and transfer facilities.
The geographic reach of our counsel includes most of the major oil-and-gas-producing states and Canadian provinces, as well as matters overseas.
Our experience covers numerous geographies and geologies domestically, including the North Slope and Cook Inlet plays (AK), Monterey Shale play (CA), D-J Basin (CO), San Juan Basin (NM), Permian Basin (TX and NM), Bakken Shale play (ND), Niobrara Shale play (CO and NB), Barnett Shale play (TX), Eagle Ford Shale play (TX), Fayetteville Shale play (AR), Woodford Shale play (OK), Black Warrior Basin (AL), Marcellus Shale play (PA and WV), Utica Shale play (OH and WV) and Huron Shale play (WV and KY).
Internationally, our experience covers oil and gas operations in Australia, Bangladesh, India, New Zealand, Poland, Italy, Canada, Mexico, Myanmar and Vietnam.
Clients work with our attorneys on a full range of commercial and corporate transactions in addition to project permitting and development, litigation and regulatory matters. Perkins Coie’s Oil and Gas practice is composed of lawyers with experience in an array of practice areas, including oil and gas operations, mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, litigation, environmental, commercial finance, land use, planning and zoning, public policy, regulatory, tax, real estate and intellectual property.
Having worked in the renewable energy sector since the 1970s, Perkins Coie attorneys are well positioned to assist clients on a full range of transactions, administrative proceedings, environmental review and litigation involving the following renewable energy sources and technologies:
- Solar: photovoltaic, thermal and concentrated
- Hydro and hydrokinetic: wave, current, tidal and thermal
- Ethanol, biodiesel and other biofuels
- Biomass, landfill gas, biomaterials and biogas
- Heat recovery
- Other renewable energy technologies and projects
Our attorneys represent the full spectrum of participants and stakeholders in the renewable and clean technology sectors, including lenders, investors, technology providers, developers, independent power producers, utilities, sponsors and end users.
Perkins Coie’s legacy of experience in this area means that clients receive counsel backed by familiarity with both the policy issues and the practical implications of federal and state tax credits, renewable portfolio standards, renewable energy certificates (RECs) and green tags. We frequently help clients structure transactions in order to achieve tax advantages, favorable financing terms and additional value for renewable energy projects.
In the area of emerging carbon markets, we help clients understand and manage their carbon “footprints,” and we regularly advise industrial, agricultural and commercial clients on current and anticipated laws and regulations relating to climate change, making special note of those that could generate enforcement issues and litigation.
In the clean technology space, Perkins Coie counsels both public and private clients advancing scientific and technological responses to climate change, including how best to protect their intellectual property.
The sea change in energy supply and the need for energy-balancing resources with low or no emissions are providing an expanding market for demand-side solutions, particularly energy efficiency, storage and demand response.
While the remarkable market growth, new technologies and application of communications and “big data” innovations of energy are new, these three cornerstones of demand-side solutions have played a significant role in the energy system for many decades.
Perkins Coie has years of experience in addressing the special issues that arise in energy efficiency, storage and demand-response transactions. Active in the forefront of emerging energy, we help clients with the latest products and new applications of existing products, so they may make the most of developing market and regulatory opportunities. As energy efficiency, storage and demand response expand, Perkins Coie readily assists both new entrants and industry stalwarts.
Our attorneys’ service to emerging energy companies includes counsel by former in-house attorneys familiar with the particular challenges facing energy startups. Perkins Coie is home to a prominent team of clean technology and emerging company legal professionals who have helped many well-known and established companies achieve their visions since their founding.
Emerging companies must be nimble, understand new directions of the markets and regulatory environments, and take advantage of fleeting opportunities to capitalize on distinctive approaches, products and services. Perkins Coie guides emerging companies by providing the context and counsel needed for quick decision making and ultimate success.
Perkins Coie’s Project Finance group works closely with our clients through all phases of the development, acquisition and financing of energy, infrastructure and public-private partnership projects in domestic and international markets. Such engagements include preliminary evaluation and due diligence, land use and permitting matters, federal, state and local tax issues, regulatory and political challenges, negotiation of development, engineering, construction, warranty, operating, management and maintenance, power purchase and other product off-take arrangements, supply agreements, real estate, joint venture and other commercial contracts and structuring and negotiating the related financing agreements.
Perkins Coie’s Project Finance group has assisted clients with the structuring and negotiation of numerous types of financings, including nonrecourse and limited-recourse debt, credit-enhanced and government-guaranteed financings, bonds and securitizations, equity, sale/leasebacks and leveraged leases, energy tax credits, mezzanine debt and debt restructurings.
Our team is comprised of transactional attorneys and specialists in the fields of energy, real estate, tax, regulatory, environmental, construction, labor and employment, intellectual property, government contracts and financing matters. Members of Perkins Coie’s team have contributed to the successful financing of some of the largest renewable energy projects as well as to smaller distribution system projects, and include energy facilities in North and South America, Asia and Africa. Our clients include lenders, borrowers, sponsors, developers, project companies, financing parties, contractors and operators in project finance transactions.
We have represented utilities, independent power producers, end users and other market participants on many forms of energy purchase and sales transactions, including short- and long-term power purchase agreements, lease arrangements, capacity sale and tolling agreements and related hedging instruments involving both renewable and fossil fuel energy sources as well as commercial utility, distributed generation, rural cooperative and other facilities and structures. Our attorneys have negotiated many novel power purchase agreements that have helped establish market precedent, including innovative energy efficiency, demand response and storage contracts.
In the commercial, permitting and regulatory arenas, our energy team includes litigators dedicated to the energy industry and related specialty areas of law. We help our clients successfully litigate the full range of energy commercial matters, including challenges to permit and other regulatory approvals in federal and state trial and appellate courts as well as appeals of electric, gas and oil pipeline rate cases and certificates appeals from FERC and state regulatory commissions.
Representative energy litigation experience includes areas involving antitrust, RICO, fraud, tort, environmental statutes, energy project approvals and other claims related to the energy industry or the provision of tariff services. In addition, our background includes proceedings and actions involving government contracts before the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
Before allowing Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System to be built on the land, the Bureau of Land Management needed to ensure compliance with a host of federal statutes, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Endangered Species Act (ESA), National Historic Preservation Act and Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA). But a group of desert tortoises and migratory bird were standing in the way.MORE