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.
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.
We represented Public Service Company of New Hampshire (PSNH) in a Maine PUC proceeding in which PSNH sought approval for its parent company, Eversource, to acquire a Connecticut water utility, Aquarion Water Company.
Verrill represented a Connecticut utility in addressing the need for certain regulatory approvals for its acquisition by a large international energy company.
Shareholder Class Action
Verrill participated in drafting the merger agreement and securing regulatory approval from the Maine PUC when Emera acquired Maine Public Service Company. We defended Maine Public in a shareholder class action suit in U.S. District Court resulting from the proposed merger.
T&D Utility Ownership of Generation
Verrill represented Emera in a lengthy case addressing the extent to which the Maine Restructuring Act prevents affiliates of a Maine T&D utility from acquiring ownership of generation facilities. In 2011, Emera sought approval of two acquisitions: (1) 25% ownership of Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. and (2) a joint venture with First Wind to develop new wind projects in the Northeast. We represented Emera in extensive litigation before the Maine PUC and Maine Supreme Judicial Court both before and after Emera closed the transactions. Verrill defended the approvals before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in two separate appeals of the Maine PUC approval orders.
T&D Utility Ownership Of Generation
We represented Emera in a lengthy case addressing the extent to which the Maine Restructuring Act prevents affiliates of a Maine T&D utility from acquiring ownership of generation facilities. In 2011, Emera sought approval of two acquisitions: (1) 25% ownership of Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. and (2) a joint venture with First Wind to develop new wind projects in the Northeast. Represented Emera in extensive litigation before the Maine PUC and Maine Supreme Judicial Court both before and after Emera closed the transactions.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Energy: Assist in Development of Major Solar Farm for Consumer-Owned Utility
In 2015, Madison Electric Works, a consumer-owned electric utility in Madison, Maine, decided to develop a solar farm on land the utility owned next to their headquarters. They called on Verrill to provide legal guidance to facilitate the project's completion. Verrill helped the utility develop an RFP process to secure a vendor, and Madison ultimately awarded the contract to build and run the project to Ohio-based IGS Solar. Verrill advised Madison on the lease agreement for the solar facilities, the purchase power agreement, and the interconnection agreements between Madison Electric Works and IGS. In January 2017, the project was completed and about 26,000 panels covering more than 20 acres are expected to provide nearly 5 megawatts of power to Madison Electric Works and its customers. The new solar farm is currently the largest in the state, more than double the size of the Bowdoin College facility opened in 2014 – which was also developed with the assistance of Verrill's Energy Team.
More information about this project is available in the Portland Press Herald:
- Maine's Largest Solar Farm Prepares to Power Up, December 2016
- State's Largest Solar Array Now Completely Operational, October 2017
Maine PUC Approval of Merger of Bangor Hydro and Maine Public
Verrill successfully obtained Maine PUC approval for the 2014 merger of Maine Public Service Company and Bangor Hydro Electric Company into a single corporation, Emera Maine.
In 2014, Emera proposed merging its two Maine operating utilities, Maine Public Service Company and Bangor Hydro-Electric Company into a single corporation, Emera Maine. The consolidation required extensive analysis and review of the respective rights and responsibilities of two major utilities, each with a long operating history of almost 100 years. The Verrill team, led by Bill Harwood and Nora Healy, carefully reviewed each utility's unique statutory rights, regulatory agency's approvals, waivers and exemptions, and contractual rights to be sure they survived the merger. After extensive discovery and hearings, the Verrill team succeeded in securing Maine PUC approval of the merger.
Multi-Disciplinary Representation in Mill Purchase and Regulatory Compliance
We represented the buyer in the acquisition of Domtar Maine LLC, which owns and operates the pulp mill in Baileyville, Maine (also known as Woodland), and continue to represent the mill in regulatory compliance matters. The mill produces about 395,000 metric tons of pulp a year, and is Washington County's largest employer with about 300 employees. It also has significant hydroelectric generating assets, with surplus power being sold to New Brunswick Power.
Verrill acted as co-counsel with O'Melveny & Myers.
Our representation included extensive due diligence and contract negotiation, and we relied upon our extensive experience in real estate, pension and benefits, labor and employment (several unions are involved with the mill), energy (including FERC), environmental law, commercial finance, tax and intellectual property.