In partnership with Maine Street Solutions, the firm's public affairs and government relations affiliate, Verrill's Energy Group serves a wide range of clients before the Maine Legislature and its Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities, and Technology. Through Maine Street Solutions, the firm also offers public relations and local campaign assistance to assist in the permitting and construction of major energy infrastructure projects.
Before the Maine Legislature, the firm has been directly involved in nearly every major aspect of energy legislation over the past seven decades. We monitor every printed bill and offer our clients essentially gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Energy Committee. Our diverse team includes seasoned energy lawyers and experienced lobbyists with a strong track record of helping our clients achieve their goals through a balance of technical legal acumen and political savvy on both sides of the aisle. When bills are before the Committee, we help our clients analyze the technical and legal aspects of legislation, prepare testimony and amendments as appropriate, forge relationships with other interest groups and regulators, testify during public hearings, provide information to legislators and staff, and work with legislative leadership and rank and file members when a bill hits the floor of the House or Senate.
In addition to our services within the State House in Augusta, our team is also skilled in media relations, public campaigns, municipal relations, and grassroots efforts. We offer these services to clients when they are looking to develop infrastructure projects within particular communities, or to supplement lobbying efforts within the Legislature. In recent years, our team helped provide important community connections that enabled Summit Natural Gas to develop new infrastructure within fifteen or more communities. We have helped developers of wind energy projects work with local communities.
The following are examples of public and government relations matters handled by our Energy Group:
- Maine's First Private Natural Gas Pipeline - Assisted a large pulp mill secure legislation to authorize building a private natural gas pipeline that tapped into the Maritimes interstate pipeline in order to lower the mill's energy costs. In order to meet the client's schedule, we had to submit after-deadline emergency legislation and get the bill through the legislature and signed by the governor in just over three weeks.
- Omnibus Energy Legislation - Represented Emera as part of Omnibus Energy Legislation authorizing the State of Maine to procure up to $75 million of natural gas capacity in New England. Our goal on behalf of the client was to ensure that the risks on Maine electric consumers through the bill were minimized, which required us to work for weeks with a wide range of stakeholders in order to make necessary amendments to the original bill. As a result of the strong relationships we developed and trusted legal solutions we offered, many of our proposals were ultimately included in the final legislation, whereas many suggestions by other stakeholders were not.
- Utility Ownership of Generation - Opposed legislation on behalf of Emera that would have prohibited affiliates of Maine T&D utilities from owning electric generation facilities in the state. Had the bill passed, Emera would not have been able to partner with First Wind to provide financing for a number of major wind energy projects.
- Expansion of Natural Gas- Represented Summit Natural Gas before the Maine Legislature, in successfully opposing legislative efforts that would have interfered with Summit's ability to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to build natural gas pipelines in the Augusta region and in the region north of Portland.
- Net Energy Billing- Assisted Emera with working with multiple stakeholders to pass legislation requiring the Maine PUC to facilitate an examination of alternatives to net energy billing to support solar energy development in Maine. To accomplish this goal, we successfully convinced legislators and other government officials that they should not adopt a half-dozen other bills that would have raised electric rates in order to subsidize the cost of solar generation in Maine.