Experience

Energy: Legislative Campaign to Oppose State Takeover of Electric Utilities

During the 2019 session of the Maine Legislature, Verrill took a leading role on behalf of our client Emera Maine in opposing significant legislation authorizing the State of Maine to take over and operate the assets of Emera Maine and Central Maine Power, Maine’s two investor-owned transmission and distribution utilities. If this bill were to pass, CMP and Emera Maine would cease to operate as investor-owned utilities. Our efforts to oppose the bill included developing and coordinating a coalition of stakeholders in opposition to the legislation; detailed research of similar efforts around the country; the preparation and distribution of fact sheets outlining our research and other data showing the challenges of a state takeover; the preparation and delivery of public testimony on the legislation; preparation of amendments to the bill; overseeing public polling and grassroots outreach efforts to oppose the bill; and the direct lobbying of legislators and state agencies. After nearly six months of work, the Legislature postponed action on the bill, and instead directed the Maine PUC to conduct a detailed study of the proposal and report back in 2020. Future efforts will focus on this study, and the potential for additional legislation on the proposal.

Energy: 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 to lower the mill's energy costs. 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.

Energy: Omnibus Energy Legislation

Verrill 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 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.

Energy: Utility Ownership of Generation

We 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.

Natural Gas Pipeline Expansion in the Northeast

Since early 2014, our firm has successfully represented a large interstate pipeline company before the Maine PUC in advancing two significant new interstate pipeline expansion projects. The larger of the two projects was designed to provide a firm and reasonably priced source of fuel for natural gas-fired generators providing electricity to consumers in Maine and New England. The Maine PUC is charged with implementation of the Energy Cost Reduction Act, a 2013 law (in which the firm was actively involved) that authorizes the State to direct execution of a contract for new natural gas pipeline capacity. The so-called energy cost reduction contract, or ECRC, will provide financing for up to $75 million per year upon a finding that the contract's benefits will outweigh its costs and that the contract is commercially reasonable and in the public interest.

After more than two years of extensive litigation, the Maine PUC selected our client's project in July 2016 as the best option for an ECRC, and directed Maine's transmission and distribution utilities to negotiate and execute of a contract for capacity on this project. The ECRC is conditioned on regional participation on the project, and will enable the development of additional pipeline capacity needed to increase the availability and supply of natural gas into New England.

Verrill has guided the project through every stage of this extensive MPUC litigation, including researching, drafting, discovery, witness examination, filing briefs, motions, and testimony, and developing a successful strategy.

Approval of Maine's First Private Natural Gas Pipeline

In 2011, Verrill secured regulatory approval for the state's first private natural gas pipeline, a direct connection off the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline serving Woodland Pulp LLC and now represents Woodland Pulp in connection with shared use of the pipeline with another industrial consumer.

Favorable Net Energy Billing Legislation

In 2015, we helped Emera Maine work 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 argued to 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.

Opposition to Legislation Adverse to Natural Gas Investment

For the past several years, we have represented Summit Natural Gas of Maine before the Maine Legislature, including 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, Maine region and in the region north of Portland.

Firm Highlights

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Maine Public Utilities Commission to Receive Bids for Northern Maine Transmission and Renewable Generation Projects

On or before May 2, 2022, the Maine Public Utilities Commission has requested bids for proposed transmission and generation resources that would boost energy exports from northern Maine. The northern Maine region has long...

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Geoff Why to Moderate "The Future is Now: 5G Wireless Networks"

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Verrill Alumni Bill Harwood Nominated as Public Advocate for the State of Maine

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Intertidal Court Victory for Property Rights, Marine Conservation, and Public Participation

The Maine Superior Court has dismissed all claims against five intertidal landowners represented by Verrill in Masucci v. Judy’s Moody, LLC . The landowners had been sued because they contacted Maine Marine Patrol to...

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Verrill Alum Bill Harwood Sworn in as Public Advocate for State of Maine

On January 26, 2022, Maine Governor Janet Mills swore in Bill Harwood as Public Advocate for the State of Maine. Bill was unanimously confirmed by the Maine State Senate and the Legislature’s Joint Standing...

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Incidental Take of Migratory Birds Prohibited Once Again as New MBTA Rule Becomes Effective

A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”) final rule that presumptively reinstates liability for incidental take under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (“MBTA”) becomes effective on December 3. The new rule revokes a Trump-era...

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Maine Rural Water Association Annual Conference with Verrill Attorney Mathew J. Todaro

Verrill Attorney Mathew J. Todaro, along with two others, will be presenting at the Maine Rural Water Association’s 41 st Annual Conference and Trade Show. Their presentation, “PFAS and Practicality Regulatory Updates with a...

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Maine PUC Releases Report on Evolution of Electrical Grid to Meet Climate Goals

On December 1, 2021, the Maine PUC released a Report on the first phase of its investigation into necessary design and operational changes to the electrical distribution grid to facilitate the State’s clean energy...

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NextEra Subsidiary Fined $8 Million under MBTA for Eagle Deaths at Wind Power Projects in Western U.S.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced that ESI Energy LLC (ESI), a wholly owned subsidiary of Nextera Energy Resources LLC, pleaded guilty to violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) and acknowledged at least...

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Kelsey McCutcheon Selected to Join the Environmental Law Institute’s (ELI) Emerging Leaders Initiative

Verrill associate Kelsey McCutcheon has been selected to join the Environmental Law Institute’s (ELI) Emerging Leaders Initiative. The Environmental Law Institute is a non-profit, non-partisan organization, that seeks to "make law work for people...

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