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

Matter

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...

Matter

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...

Blog

MPUC Adopts Safe Harbor for Determination of “Discrete Electric Generating Facilities,” a Qualification for Net Energy Billing and Distributed Generation Programs

Yesterday, all three Maine Public Utilities Commission Commissioners agreed to adopt a new standard for the determination of what facilities qualify as “discrete electric generating facilities” under the MPUC’s Distributed Generation and Net Energy...

Matter

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...

Matter

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...

Blog

Maine Public Utilities Commission Invites Net Energy Billing Report Comments

Yesterday, the Maine Public Utilities Commission issued a request for comments related to the MPUC’s Net Energy Billing Report to the Legislature. The Commission broadly invited any interested person to submit information or comments...

Blog

Maine Law Court Holds Citizen's Initiative Cannot Block CMP's NECEC Transmission Line

News

Nearly 80 Verrill Attorneys Recognized by Best Lawyers® 2021, Including a Dozen Named Lawyers of the Year

(August 24, 2020) – Nearly 80 Verrill attorneys were recognized as "Best Lawyers" by Best Lawyers® 2021 , including 12 attorneys named “Lawyer of the Year,” a distinguished recognition for only a single lawyer...

Blog

We're Hiring: Seeking Energy and Environmental Associate to Join Our Team

Verrill seeks to hire an associate attorney to join our Portland office as a member of our Environmental and Energy Groups. Verrill is a full service law firm with more than 135 attorneys conducting...

Blog

MPUC Issues Order Setting Forth “Discrete Electric Generating Facilities” Safe Harbor

Today, the Maine Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) issued an Advisory Ruling establishing a safe harbor for the determination whether a generation facility is a Discrete Electric Generating Facility for the purposes of qualifying for...

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