2017 Emera Distribution Rate Case
Verrill represented Emera in its 2017 distribution rate case before the Maine PUC, which included: defeating Staff's proposed reduction to allowed return on equity for "management inefficiency;" approval of new expenditures, such as an enhanced vegetation management program; and recovery of increased storm restoration and employee benefits costs.
Verrill represented Emera in its 2016 distribution rate case before the Maine PUC. The case involved issues relating to significant new capital investments, including Emera's new customer information system and a controversial substation investment. In the midst of the rate case, the Maine PUC ordered a formal management audit of Emera's customer service and transmission and distribution operations.
We represented Emera in a rate design case before the Maine PUC to determine whether local distribution rates should be adjusted to reflect seasonal variations in the cost of providing electric distribution service.
Verrill represented a Maine utility in the negotiation of a temporary rate surcharge applicable to former ratepayers of an electric co-operative. The surcharge was designed to recover the incremental costs of the utility acquiring the co-operative and directly serving its former ratepayers.
Stranded Cost Rate Reconciliation
We represented Emera in multiple stranded cost reconciliation cases in which stranded cost revenues and expenses are reconciled annually with forecasted revenues and expenses.
As part of Emera's plans to integrate its newly acquired subsidiary, Tampa Electric, with its existing operating utilities, including Emera Maine, Verrill obtained Maine PUC approval of two affiliate service agreements, permitting Emera Maine to purchase services from its new Tampa affiliate.
Change of Control of Emera Maine
Verrill represented Emera Maine, and its affiliates Chester SVC Partnership and Maine Electric Power Company (the “Utilities”), before the Maine PUC with respect to the Utilities’ request for Commission approval of the change of control of Emera Maine resulting from ENMAX Corporation’s (an Alberta, Canada utility) proposed acquisition of Emera Maine. The case involved many parties, with diverse interests; voluminous discovery; and application of a new “net benefits” legal standard to the Commission’s decision.
Energy: Energy Aggregation
We advised Maine Power Options (MPO), the energy aggregation arm of two quasi-state agencies, Maine Bond Bank and the Maine Health and Higher Education Facilities Authority, with regard to developing and administering a procurement process by which MPO selects an electricity marketer to supply MPO members. Verrill provides ongoing support to MPO with respect to the procurement process and energy contracting.
Energy: Promotion of Heat Pumps
Verrill assisted a Maine utility in the development and passage of state legislation to allow T&D utilities to directly provide energy-efficient electric heat pumps to customers, provided the program lowers the life cycle electric costs of participating customers; is subject to rates set by the Maine PUC; and allows customers to choose their own installer.
We represented Emera in obtaining Maine PUC approval of a number of bond issuances and bond re-financings for improvements to its T&D system.
Local Transmission Planning Standards
Emera choose Verrill to represent it when the Maine PUC opened an investigation into certain local transmission planning standards applicable to Maine’s electric utilities. The standards or “safe harbors” are important tools in transmission planning that provide certain assumptions, such as estimating generation dispatch, that impact future reliability needs. Numerous parties participated at various stages of this lengthy proceeding, which was ultimately resolved through a Commission approved settlement.
We represented a Maine utility before the Maine PUC in a proceeding in which the utility sought approval to own and operate a microgrid to be located at its operations center. The proposed microgrid consisted of a 600 kW AC photovoltaic array, a 500 kw/950 kWh Tesla Powerpack battery, an existing diesel generator, and an electric vehicle charger.
New Transmission Line
We represented a wind developer in obtaining the environmental and land use permits for a 15-mile 115 kV transmission line connecting the Northern Maine transmission system to ISO-New England.
In litigation spanning several years, Verrill represented Emera in a Maine PUC investigation into ratemaking mechanisms associated with non-wires alternatives for Maine's investor-owned transmission and distribution utilities. That proceeding grew out of a prior proceeding, in which we represented Emera, involving the issue of whether Maine should appoint a state wide Non-Transmission Alternatives Coordinator, and if so, whether the Coordinator would be a public utility. The NTA Coordinator proceeding arose from legislation related to the need for establishing a so-called “Smart Grid Coordinator” for the state of Maine.
Prudence of New Substation
Verrill represented a Maine utility in a lengthy and contentious Maine PUC case involving the prudence of the siting and design of a new substation. To address the concerns of several neighbors arising out of the original siting and design, the utility changed the location and design of the substation. This resulted in a significant cost increase and a Maine PUC investigation into the prudence of the utility agreeing to those changes.
Securitization of Stranded Costs
Public Service Company of New Hampshire (PSNH) choose Verrill to represent it in a proceeding to obtain regulatory approval for the creation of a new wholly owned subsidiary, a "special-purpose-entity" to facilitate the securitization of stranded costs and the issuance of rate reduction bonds subsequent to the divestiture of PSNH's generation assets.
Standards of Conduct
Verrill represented Emera in a Maine PUC rulemaking establishing standards of conduct governing the relationship between transmission and distribution utilities and affiliated generators. The rulemaking arose from a number of earlier commission proceedings, including an investigation into the ownership of generation by Emera affiliates.
Energy: Reclassifying as a FERC-Jurisdictional Transmission Line
In 2010, Madison Electric Works (MEW), an electric utility serving Madison, Maine, explored reclassifying its 115-kV power line as a FERC-jurisdictional transmission line. Reclassification of the line, which serves Madison Paper Industries (MPI), Backyard Farms, and other customers in Madison, could permit MPI to receive electricity supply on more favorable terms. We advised MEW as to the steps necessary to obtain FERC-jurisdictional status, and researched the regulatory regime under which MEW would find itself were the reclassification to succeed.
2014 Emera Distribution Rate Case
In 2014, Bill Harwood and Nora Healy represented Emera in a rate case, in which the Maine PUC approved an 8.68% increase in distribution rates. The case involved numerous intervenors, including the Public Advocate and a number of Emera customers. Significant issues in the case involved depreciation rates, return on equity, extraordinary storm costs, vegetation management expenses, and the allocation of certain costs between distribution and transmission. In a creative resolution, Emera settled the distribution rate case and two pending stranded cost rate cases in a comprehensive, Maine PUC-approved stipulation.
2014 Emera Maine Stranded Cost Rate Case
Nora Healy represented Emera in its 2014 stranded cost rate case for Emera's Maine Public District. New stranded cost rates were expeditiously approved by the Maine PUC in less than three months, thereby delivering a stranded cost rate decrease to Maine PUC customers. Among other things, the case involved the flow through to ratepayers of settlement proceeds resulting from litigation involving spent nuclear fuel storage costs incurred by the Maine Yankee nuclear power plant.
Bangor Hydro: Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for Downeast Reliability Project
The Maine PUC granted Bangor Hydro Electric Company a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) for the construction and operation of a 115 kV electric transmission line in Washington County, Maine known as the Downeast Reliability Project. The transmission line is 42 miles long, and the project included a new electric substation, resulting in a total project cost of approximately $68 million. The line created a needed "loop" in Downeast Maine to supplement an existing single radial line, and increased reliability and capacity in the area to address coastal load growth and reliability. Nora Healy handled the CPCN proceeding for Bangor Hydro.
Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for Northern Maine Interconnection
In 2014 and 2015, Verrill Dana represented Emera Maine before the Maine PUC in Emera’s request for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) for Emera's proposed 138 kV transmission line, providing a new interconnection between the Northern Maine electric system and the New Brunswick, Canada system. Emera proposed the line to address reliability concerns regarding the ability of the Northern Maine transmission system to meet customer demand under peak load conditions.
Wind Generator Lead Lines
In the Kibby Wind project, Verrill permitted 27 miles of generator lead line that traversed both organized and unorganized jurisdictions in Maine. The permits included a federal Army Corps of Engineers Section 404 permit, Maine Department of Environmental Protection Site Location and NRPA permits, and Maine Land Use Regulation Commission approvals.
In the Stetson Wind project, Verrill permitted 38 miles of generator lead line that traversed both organized and unorganized jurisdictions in Maine. The permits included a federal Army Corps of Engineers Section 404 permit and Maine Department of Environmental Protection Site Law and NRPA permits.
In the Oakfield Wind project, Verrill permitted 56 miles of generator lead line that traversed both organized and unorganized jurisdictions in Maine. The permits included a federal Army Corps of Engineers Section 404 permit, Maine Department of Environmental Protection Site Law and NRPA permits, as well as several local permits.
In the Bingham Wind project, Verrill permitted a 17 mile generator lead line that traversed organized and unorganized jurisdiction in Maine. The permits included a federal Army Corps of Engineers Section 404 permit, Maine Department of Environmental Protection Site Law and NRPA permits, as well as several local permits.
In the Saddleback Ridge Wind project, Verrill assisted Patriot Renewables in permitting 9.5 miles of generator lead in the towns of Carthage, Dixfield and Canton, Maine. The permits included a federal Army Corps of Engineers Section 404 permit, Maine Department of Environmental Protection Site Location and NRPA permits, utility location permits from the Maine DOT and the Town of Carthage, and a building permit from the Town of Dixfield.