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.
Arbitration of Hydro PPA Dispute
Represented a Maine utility in arbitratiion of a contractual dispute between the utility and a hydro facility owner arising under a long-term power purchase agreement. After a lengthy hearing, the arbitrator ruled in favor of the utility, finding that, even though the full output PPA provided only a single MWh price and referred only to energy sales, the utility purchased both the energy and capacity available from the hydro facility.
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.
FERC Headwater Benefits Case
Secured a settlement on behalf of several downstream hydro owners in a FERC headwater benefits case that spanned 12 years and involved millions of dollars of claims between several major U.S. hydro developers owning hydro facilities on the Penobscot River. The case was complicated by several factors, including (1) a jurisdictional fight between the U.S. Bankruptcy Court and FERC after one of the parties filed for bankruptcy; (2) a contested 15-year-old settlement of a portion of the claim; and (3) multiple sales of both the upstream and downstream hydro facilities while the case was being litigated, resulting in multiple indemnification claims and defenses between the parties related to the underlying headwater benefits claims.
FERC Hydro License Compliance
Represented ENEL, an international leader in hydro power, before FERC in defending against a formal Section 206 Complaint by the City of Lawrence, Massachusetts, and various abutters, alleging that ENEL North America has violated the terms of its FERC hydro license by failing to maintain and repair the canals along the Merrimack River.Verrill successfully obtained a letter order from Commission Staff dismissing the complaint. After Complainants filed a request for rehearing, Verrill successfully opposed the request and obtained an order from the Commission denying in full the request for rehearing.
Power Purchase Agreement Dispute
Represented Emera in defending a claim by a hydroelectric operator disputing Emera's determination of so-called avoided cost PURPA rates paid by Emera to the hydroelectric operator.