Experience

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.

Management Audit

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.

Natural Gas Rate Plan

Verrill represented Summit Natural Gas in securing Maine PUC approval of its alternative rate plan or ARP. The ten-year rate plan provided for annual rate adjustments during the course of the ARP, return-on-equity sharing provisions, authority to enter into special rate agreements without prior Commission approval, recovery of natural gas conversion rebate costs, and a service line installation policy and metrics. The ARP was part of a larger proceeding in which Summit obtained the Commission's approval to begin providing service in Maine despite the opposition of an existing Maine gas utility.

Rate Design

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.

Rate Surcharge

Verrill represented a Maine utility in the negotiation of a temporary rate surcharge applicable to former ratepayers of an electric co-operative. The surcharge was designed to recover the incremental costs of the utility acquiring the co-operative and directly serving its former ratepayers.

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.

Acquisition Approval

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.

Acquisition Approval

Verrill represented a Connecticut utility in addressing the need for certain regulatory approvals for its acquisition by a large international energy company.

Acquisition of Paper Mill

Verrill represented an energy developer in its proposed acquisition of the real estate and electric generation assets of a former paper mill. We provided advice on federal and state regulatory laws affecting the client's acquisition and proposed operations, including maintaining Qualifying Facility status and avoiding public utility status at both the state and federal levels.

Defending Arbitration Award

Verrill represented Woodland Pulp before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in successfully defending an arbitration award after a lengthy, contentious arbitration proceeding resolving a dispute between Woodland Pulp and a tenant over shared use of a private natural gas pipeline.

Energy: Acquisition of LDC

Verrill assisted with an investment fund with due diligence in regard to potential acquisition of a local gas distribution company. The scope of work included analysis of state regulatory environment for gas utilities and the process for seeking regulatory approval of the potential acquisition.

Pipeline Refund

Verrill represented MetroMedia, a natural gas marketer, in appealing an adverse ruling of the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. We argued the case asserting that the pipeline refund ordered by the Massachusetts Commission should have been paid to MetroMedia, as a gas marketer, not directly to MetroMedia's customers.

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.

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.

Accounting Orders

Represented Summit Natural Gas in seeking Maine PUC approval of an accounting order to enable Summit to capitalize certain costs associated with its conversion rebate program for commercial customers.

Affiliate Services

As part of Emera's plans to integrate its newly acquired subsidiary, Tampa Electric, with its existing operating utilities, including Emera Maine, Verrill obtained Maine PUC approval of two affiliate service agreements, permitting Emera Maine to purchase services from its new Tampa affiliate.

Arbitration of Gas Pipeline Dispute

Represented Woodland Pulp in securing a favorable arbitration award after a lengthy and contentious arbitration proceeding resolving a dispute between Woodland Pulp and a tenant over shared use and "balancing" of a private natural gas pipeline.

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.

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.

Energy: Gas Pipeline Expansion

Represented an interstate pipeline company before the Maine PUC in advancing an interstate pipeline expansion project designed to provide a firm, competitively priced source of fuel for natural gas-fired generators providing electricity to consumers in Maine and elsewhere in New England. The Maine PUC is charged with implementation of the Energy Cost Reduction Act, a 2013 law (the firm was actively involved in drafting and securing passage of the Act) that authorizes the state to direct execution of a contract for new natural gas pipeline capacity. A so-called energy cost reduction contract, or ECRC, provides 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 as the best option for an ECRC and directed Maine's electric transmission and distribution utilities to purchase pipeline capacity on the proposed pipeline expansion. The project is conditioned on support from other New England states, as it will enable the development of additional pipeline capacity needed to increase the availability and supply of natural gas throughout New England.

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.

Financing Approvals

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.

HVAC Conversion

Obtained Maine PUC approval for an LDC to create an affiliate to provide HVAC conversion services to prospective customers.

Maine's First Private Pipeline

Secured regulatory approval for the state's first private natural gas pipeline, a direct connection from the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline serving Woodland Pulp LLC; and continues to represent Woodland Pulp in connection with shared use of the pipeline with another industrial consumer.

Microgrids

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.

Natural Gas Consumers

Provide legal counsel to Bowdoin College and other larger consumers of gas regarding their purchase and use of gas. Represented several large consumers of Maine Natural Gas in successfully objecting to a proposed rate increase by MNG.

Pipeline Refund

Represented a natural gas marketer in contested Public Utilities Commission proceedings in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts and succeeded in obtaining more than $700,000 for the client from a FERC-ordered refund by an interstate pipeline.

Firm Highlights

News

38 Verrill Attorneys, Across Four Offices, Recognized in 2020 Chambers & Partners Guide

(April 27, 2020) – Verrill has been rated as a Leading Firm in a total of ten categories and subcategories as evaluated by London-based Chambers & Partners , one of the world's most respected...

Matter

Management Audit

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...

Blog

Verrill Helps State’s Largest Solar Project Obtain Principal Environmental Permit

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

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

Matter

Rate Design

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.

Publication/Podcast

7th Annual Maine Natural Gas Conference

On Thursday, October 3, 2019, Verrill and Pierce Atwood hosted our 7th Annual Maine Natural Gas Conference. Verrill attorney William Harwood and Pierce Atwood attorney John Gulliver led the day as our industry professionals...

Matter

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...

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...

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...