Experience

Sales of Kennebec Hydro Project

Verrill represented Kennebec Water District in connection with the sale to Essex Hydro of its hydro-electric facility on the Kennebec River. Bill Harwood and Brian Marshall represent Kennebec Water District in seeking FERC approval of the transfer of the project and securing an order of the Maine PUC declining to assert jurisdiction over the sale. Mark Googins negotiated the Purchase & Sale Agreement and Tony Calcagni negotiated the transfer of real estate and related easements.

Solar Energy: Acquisition of Grid-Scale Project in Brunswick, Maine

Verrill represented Diversified Communications in the acquisition of a newly built $2.5 million solar array in Brunswick, Maine. The array, which was developed by ReVision Energy and went online in January 2018, will provide power to more than 100 businesses at Brunswick Landing. Verrill attorneys advised Diversified Communications on a range of issues in the transaction, including federal debt financing, solar investment tax credits, solar renewable energy credits, electric power sales, EPC contracting, and regulatory, real estate and corporate matters. We worked collaboratively with Diversified Communications and the developer of the project to get the deal done on a short timeline while minimizing investment risk.

Oakhurst Dairy: The Natural Goodness of an Enduring Legacy


The Bennett Family
L to R: Jean Bennett Driscoll, William P. Bennett, Mary Ellen Bennett Tetreau, Priscilla Bennett Doucette, Althea Bennett McGirr, John H. Bennett

When Stanley T. Bennett opened Oakhurst Dairy in 1921, he laid the groundwork for what would grow to become an iconic multi-generational family-owned business with a reputation for innovation, community service and environmental stewardship. His family successfully ran the business for three generations. In 2013, the family made the decision to sell the company to Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. (DFA), a $12 billion cooperative. A team of Verrill attorneys worked closely with the Bennetts throughout the complex merger negotiations which lasted more than six months and involved multiple potential acquirers. Many legal issues required attention beyond the agreement negotiations, and Verrill had the breadth and depth of experience to take them on. Our team provided counsel relating to federal antitrust review, taxation and benefits issues, intellectual property, environmental permitting and real estate interests.

Oakhurst's numerous dairy products have been a household staple in New England for generations. The Bennett family was thrilled to have the partnership opportunity presented by DFA, with its national presence, complementing culture and values, and financial strength. As a result of the sale, none of Oakhurst's 200 employees lost their jobs, the company will continue to get its milk from the 70 independent Maine farmers who supply Oakhurst's milk, and the integrity of the product will be maintained. Verrill was honored to work with this iconic company in ensuring its legacy will endure and the dairy will remain a vibrant member of the local economy for generations to come.

Blue Sky East: Lease and Easement Negotiations

Our attorneys handled lease and easement negotiations and related project agreements for a proposed 34.2 megawatt wind power project in T16 MD, Hancock County, Maine. We also performed title work and arranged for title insurance and surveys.

Champlain Wind: Lease and Easement Negotiations

Our attorneys provided lease and easement negotiations, fee acquisitions and related project agreements for proposed wind energy project of up to 69.1 megawatts, with associated 5-mile electric generator lead line, in Carroll Plantation (Penobscot County) and Kossuth Township (Washington County), Maine. Additional work on behalf of this client included title work and arranging for title insurance and surveys

Emera's Acquisition of Swan's Island Electric Cooperative

Emera's 2017 acquisition of Swan's Island Electric Cooperative required a multi-disciplined team of Verrill energy lawyers to successfully close the transaction. Because the seller was a member based cooperative, the transaction was structured as an asset purchase, rather than a stock purchase. This required a determination that the Cooperative had marketable title to hundreds of easements, many of which had been acquired by the Cooperative decades earlier. Upon investigation, the parties identified that there were over 200 easements to be acquired or confirmed for Cooperative power lines crossing private property. Tony Calcagni worked with the Cooperative management team for approximately one year to remedy the problems and procure valid deeds to the power line easements.

The acquisition also raised a novel question of utility ratemaking. Because of the high cost of serving the islands, the Public Utilities Commission raised the issue as to whether island ratepayers should pay more than Emera's mainland rates for electricity. In a two to one decision, the Maine PUC rejected the acquisition, finding that charging mainland rates to island customers would result in an unreasonable subsidy of island customers. In response, Bill Harwood and Brian Marshall, renegotiated the terms of the acquisition by including a five-year monthly surcharge on island ratepayers, and were thereby able to convince the Public Utilities Commission to approve the acquisition.

Evergreen Gen Lead: Easement Negotiation and Project Agreements

• Negotiated original easements and related project agreements for 38-mile 115 kV transmission line (currently operational), including easements w/ MEPCO, Eastern Maine Railway Co., Maine Central Railroad Co., Prentiss & Carlisle, Eastern Maine Electric Coop., State of Maine/IF&W, and many others.
• Arranged for title insurance and surveys
• Serve as local real estate counsel for financings:
o July 17, 2009 mortgage loan w/ HSH Nordbank
o Dec. 22, 2009 mortgage loan w/BNP Paribas

LUPC Ruling Reversal

We obtained a reversal of a 10-year-old Land Use Planning Commission ruling for a Moosehead Lake landowner. The new determination found that the landowner's property was consistent with LUPC rules and allowed the client to convey his family camp to another family member. Without our advocacy, LUPC's position was that the client's property did not meet dimensional requirements and was not saleable. Verrill Dana attorneys also handled the landowner's real estate transactions and probate issues related to the camp, including confirmation of water access rights.

Penobscot River Restoration Trust: Project Management

The Penobscot River Restoration Project is one of the largest and most creative river restoration projects in our nation's history. The nonprofit Penobscot River Restoration Trust ("the Penobscot Trust") has worked in collaboration with the Penobscot Indian Nation, seven conservation groups, state and federal agencies, and dam owner Black Bear Hydro Partners LLP, to implement the project to restore 11 species of sea-run fish to the Penobscot River, while also maintaining energy production.* In 2015, the Trust has neared completion of the final stages of this 12-year endeavor. Verrill congratulates all those involved in this historic project.

Successful implementation of the project has revived not only native fisheries but social, cultural and economic traditions of New England's second largest river—the Penobscot. The Penobscot Trust has acquired three Penobscot dams, holds necessary final permits, and is preparing to remove the two closest to the sea – Veazie and Great Works – and construct a fish bypass at the third dam, Howland. At the same time, Black Bear Hydro is, as part of the project, increasing power generation and improving fish passage at several other dams on the river to maintain or increase generating capacity in the system.

Through this reconfiguration of fish migration access and power production, the Penobscot Project has significantly improved access to nearly 1,000 miles of habitat and restore ecological functions of the river while also maintaining hydropower capacity of the river system. Further information regarding this historic project can be found on the Trust's website, www.penobscotriver.org.

Verrill has been pleased to assist the Trust since 2006 with all phases of the restoration project, including drafting of the commercial agreements, national, state and local permitting and regulatory compliance for the decommissioning and removal activities, as well as assistance with strategic planning and dispute resolution. Attorneys from multiple practices, including corporate, real estate, environmental, regulatory, construction, energy and utilities coordinated a multi-disciplinary approach to supporting the Trust's goals and objectives. As a commitment of Verrill to bringing its experience to matters of significant public interest, Verrill contributed extensive in-kind legal assistance to the Penobscot Trust.

* The project has been an uncommonly effective collaboration including PPL Corporation; Black Bear Hydro Partners LLC; Penobscot Indian Nation; the Penobscot Trust, American Rivers, Atlantic Salmon Federation, Maine Audubon, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Trout Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, federal agencies including the U. S. Department of the Interior [Bureau of Indian Affairs; National Park Service; and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)] and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); the State of Maine including the State Planning Office, Department of Marine Resources and Inland Fisheries and Wildlife; as well as private and public funders; communities; businesses; and numerous others.

TransCanada Maine Wind Development Inc.: Lease and Easement Negotiations

We represented TransCanada Maine Wind Development Inc. in lease and easement negotiations, fee acquisitions and related project agreements for Kibby Wind Power Project, a 132-megawatt wind farm in Franklin County, Maine with associated 25-mile 115 kV transmission line, the largest wind power development in New England. Our attorneys also negotiated easements and related project agreements for proposed Kibby expansion located in Kibby Twp. and Chain of Ponds Twp. (11 turbine expansion accepted by Maine LURC for processing) and arranged for title insurance and surveys.