Energy drives modern life. From the wires supplying electricity to the pipelines shipping vital fuels to end users, regulators and companies constantly evaluate how to best meet energy needs through a dynamic mix of new construction, rate changes, public policy initiatives, and new energy technology. These changing times require a multidisciplinary approach and attorneys who not only have mastered existing regulatory schemes and expectations, but also have the foresight to anticipate issues and advise clients on the direction of the industry. Venable's multidisciplinary Energy Industry team has an in-depth understanding of the industry's business, legal, and technical issues and offers clients a unique blend of commercial, technology, regulatory, litigation, policy, and legislative experience.
We represent the full spectrum of players in the energy industry – from the extraction, transportation, and marketing sectors to traditional utilities and developers of renewable energy/fuels, smart grid technology, and cybersecurity solutions. Our clients include producers, marketers, refiners, and end users; traditional and merchant gas/electric companies; developers, financers, and suppliers of renewable energy; importers/exporters; and consumers in the transportation, healthcare, real estate, construction, and financial sectors.
Coordinating seamlessly across legal disciplines, we handle a broad range of energy-related matters that include:
- Regulatory approvals, compliance, investigations, enforcement, and protests
- Power generation and sales agreements
- Transmission agreements
- Project finance Infrastructure siting and licensing
- Environmental impact review, permitting, compliance, and due diligence
- Real estate transactions
- Land use and planning
- Development and construction
- Government contracts
- Intellectual property
- Interstate and international commerce
- Labor and employment
- Market development
- Mergers and acquisitions
- Public policy, government relations, and lobbying
- Tax and financial incentives
- Private standards
Traditional Energy Regulation
Crude Oil, Natural Gas, Refined Products, and Shipping
Over the last thirty years, Venable attorneys have established themselves among the preeminent lead regulatory and litigation counsel for shippers of crude oil, petroleum product, and natural gas liquids (NGLs) via pipeline in cases before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), playing a key role in nearly every major disputed crude oil, petroleum product, or NGLs pipeline rate or tariff proceeding in the lower 48 states.
Our group regularly assists pipeline companies, utilities, and shippers with tariff compliance, accounting, reporting, and other issues. We also represent independent power producers, natural gas storage companies, and other large consumers of natural gas. Our attorneys deal regularly with issues under the Interstate Commerce Act (ICA), Natural Gas Act (NGA), Federal Power Act (FPA), Public Utility Holding Company Act (PUHCA), and other statutes. We also have significant experience appearing before state public utility and transportation commissions.
Venable's Energy Group has extensive experience with transmission planning and generation interconnection issues, and in the development of both traditional and renewable energy. In recent years, we have been involved in virtually all aspects of state and federal regulation and restructuring of the electric utility industry, including retail unbundling and state renewable energy mandates (renewable portfolio standards). We have addressed numerous issues related to open access transmission requirements promulgated by the FERC, including new planning and cost-allocation requirements; market design; market-based rates and codes of conduct; rules prohibiting market manipulation; investigations of alleged market manipulation; transmission ratemaking; and rules on incentive rates. Our attorneys also have experience with obtaining approvals of transactions pursuant to Federal Power Act (FPA) Section 203.
Since the implementation of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and the creation of mandatory Reliability Standards, the group has been deeply involved in the regulation of reliability matters by FERC, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), and regional entities. This work has also featured compliance with the regulatory scheme for protection of critical infrastructure assets and evolving cybersecurity practices in the electric industry and related industries.
In addition, we often serve as lead counsel in directing multidisciplinary teams supporting the licensing, permitting, and environmental review of major utility infrastructure projects, including cross-border and multi-state transmission lines and the full spectrum of generating facilities, including renewable generation.
New Energy Regulation
Technological and regulatory changes in energy generation, transmission, and distribution present strategic business, policy, and legal challenges and opportunities for traditional energy providers, alternative energy providers, business sectors involved with power production and delivery, and innovators involved in making energy delivery more efficient.
Each year non-energy industries also face more New Energy legal and business issues. For example, financial institutions and private equity firms increasingly own and finance regulated energy assets and must comply with federal and state rules for generation owners. Similarly, energy customers – including hospitals, universities, municipalities, real estate institutions, and individuals – have increasing power to choose their energy supplier and to seek to secure alternative sources or more resilient power (e.g., renewable energy or micro-grid developments).
Venable applies legal and business expertise across the New Energy landscape to assist clients with:
- Renewable and Alternative Energy
- Energy Efficiency and Grid Resilience
- Climate Change
- Green Business
Renewable and Alternative Energy
Venable is at the leading edge of the issues confronting developers of wind, solar, hydroelectric, biomass, and other renewable energy sources. Our integrated practice involves attorneys with decades of traditional energy industry experience and who are at the forefront of renewable and alternative energy law. We offer extensive experience in all facets of development (including licensing and permitting), project financing, intellectual property, regulation, tax, and commercial law in both the United States and the international arena.
Energy Efficiency and Grid Resilience
The loss of power due to natural disasters reminds us of the central place of electricity and fuel in our world. Because avoiding a blackout or fuel shortage is critical to business and public safety, regulators, energy providers, and customers increasingly look for new models to ensure reliable service. Technological advances allow consumer choice to limit energy use at peak times (demand response) and increased energy efficiency to emerge as alternatives to the construction of new generation and transmission assets to ensure that power is available when it is critically needed. As a result, micro-grids, "smart grid" technology, and energy storage are pushing the boundaries of traditional utility business models. These new alternative energy structures foreshadow a greater role for distributed generation to make electric power more efficient and the grid more resilient, and the related issues cross legal disciplines with questions of cost allocation, reliability, and fuel source.
As a result, both existing utilities and New Energy service providers face a changing regulatory landscape and will need to stay ahead of these issues as the rules of the playing field are established.
Venable is well positioned to assist in these areas as federally regulated energy markets and state public utility commissions develop new related policies. We have worked extensively with Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs) throughout the United States and Canada. We have assisted them in the long and complex regulatory processes that have led to the establishment of their energy markets and the implementation of additional services to support reliable transmission service, including state and federal regulation and restructuring of the electric utility industry, open access transmission requirements, new planning and cost-allocation requirements, and market design. We are also involved in state public utility commissions proceedings focused on modernizing the electric grid and the regulatory scheme to adapt to the changing market.
Federal and state regulators and private lawsuits increasingly raise the issue of the climate impact from the daily activities of the energy industry. Most recently, proposals to regulate carbon emissions, such as the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Clean Power Plan for reducing carbon emissions from the power sector, will impact numerous businesses, states, and municipalities across the country.
Venable's nationally recognized regulatory and government affairs attorneys know how the government works and provide counsel on complex regulatory issues, including climate change, carbon regulation and trading, and other environmental and energy-related matters. For example, we have represented energy clients in EPA's development of regulations addressing the sequestration of carbon in underground locations as part of the agency's overall policy for carbon capture and storage for the nation's coal-fired power plants.
We also are advising clients that are planning a new clean-fuel utility that will be eligible for Kyoto greenhouse gas credits, and clients in a broad range of industries with interests in climate-change regimes. In addition, Venable regularly represents clients with infrastructure projects undergoing environmental impact assessments (that include assessment of potential climate impacts), and advocates for other clients on climate-change legislation and regulatory rules. Venable also advises clients who are developing electric vehicles and electric vehicle infrastructure (such as charging stations), and incorporating electric vehicles and batteries as a means of storing energy for dispatch to the grid.
Fueled by new regulatory requirements, financial and development incentives, and market demand, the clamor for high-performance and sustainable "green" buildings is often the rule rather than the exception. As federal and state governments increasingly require compliance with the United States Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Rating System and Low Impact Development requirements, Venable's team of land use, real estate, and construction professionals – including attorneys who are USGBC LEED®-Accredited Professionals – advise clients on strategic compliance with these new standards, the particular risks associated with "green" building projects, and the unique considerations involved with the financing, design, and construction of these projects.
Venable attorneys have represented clients on energy-related advertising issues involving energy supply companies, and in consumer class actions asserting violations of state consumer protection and false advertising laws arising out of the suppliers' respective variable-rate advertising and marketing practices. We also assist clients with product registrations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), including ENERGY STAR designations, compliance with Department of Energy energy efficiency testing and certification, and approvals by other agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration.
Venable's Energy Group has extensive experience with international oil and gas projects, and has assisted in the development of cross-border electric transmission projects between the United States and Canada. Our experience also includes project development initiatives in the Middle East, Africa, and Eastern Europe, as well as maritime and import/export energy issues.
In the Middle East, our Energy Group has handled disputes and contracts related to the Iraqi reconstruction efforts, including work for a large Kuwaiti conglomerate and various joint ventures. We also have written energy laws for an African nation, handled arbitrations over oil- and gas-related disputes, and worked with a group that signed memoranda of understanding with an African nation covering the refurbishment of a hydroelectric facility and construction of a pipeline and several solar facilities. In Eastern Europe, we have worked with a group involved with a proposed construction of a pipeline.
We have represented the foreign owner (Denmark/Singapore) and operator (UK) of a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) vessel under criminal investigation for violations of international and U.S. laws related to maritime oil pollution; our representation resulted in a declination of prosecution. In addition, we have represented one of the largest independent oil tanker operators in the world in a case involving the voluntary disclosure to the Coast Guard and Department of Justice of violations of U.S. and international laws related to maritime oil pollution; the case resulted in the first formal acceptance of a voluntary disclosure by the Coast Guard under its policy (and a decision not to refer the case for criminal prosecution).
Venable routinely works with global petrochemical companies to monitor, manage, and enhance import transactions and compliance; for example, Venable represents oil and gas industry clients in U.S. Customs Focused Assessments and conducts ISA Annual Reviews. We have also defended clients during detentions, forfeitures, seizures, civil and criminal investigations, and other Customs-related matters. Venable provides industry-specific strategic customs and trade advice to energy clients by conducting Pre-Assessment Compliance Reviews, including corporate-wide, multi-location assessments and training programs, and by preparing submissions to CBP, such as Customs protests and Prior Disclosures. The International Trade Group advises multinational oil and gas companies on country-of-origin and Foreign Trade Zone issues, valuation, classification, and trade preference programs, among other CBP regulations.
Venable's International Trade lawyers also advise petrochemical companies on U.S. export controls, including by conducting full facility reviews to determine licensing requirements for "dual-use" equipment, technical data, and "deemed exports" to foreign nationals employed in the United States.
Environmental Aspects of Energy
Venable has extensive experience with the intersection of energy and environmental issues. Specifically, Venable represents a leading utility trade association comprising over 110 energy companies on virtually every legislative, regulatory, and major policy initiative affecting the Utility and Energy markets involving solid and hazardous waste issues, chemical storage and handling (including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)), Department of Transportation (DOT) hazardous material transportation regulations, and environmental remediation matters. This experience has allowed Venable's attorneys to cultivate valuable relationships with agency and congressional staff over the past three and a half decades.
Venable also has one of the leading NEPA practices in the country, and supports the environmental review of major energy infrastructure projects nationwide. In addition, we have a great deal of specialty expertise (e.g., wetlands, species, cultural/historical/tribal, and public lands) and key agency contacts (e.g., DOE, Army Corps, EPA, FWS, DOI, and ACHP) for supporting large, complex infrastructure projects. This includes work on large cross-border and interstate transmission projects.
Venable also provides top-notch representation in Environmental Litigation and Investigations. Our team—led by former high-ranking environmental officials at the Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency—represents businesses facing investigations from government agencies, civil matters stemming from a private right of action, or criminal charges. We represent corporations and individuals in proceedings before federal, state, and administrative tribunals, including matters involving air, water, hazardous waste, and natural resource claims, as well as carbon emissions and compliance with and development of private energy efficiency and sustainability standards. Venable attorneys also represent and counsel government contractors facing suspension or debarment.
- Regulatory proceedings
- Legislative and regulatory strategy
- Renewable and alternative energy
- Aviation and transportation
- Consumers and producers of
- crude oil
- traditional and renewable electricity
- natural gas
- petroleum products
- Crude oil and refined products pipelines
- Distribution and generation of electricity
- Municipal governments
- Natural gas pipelines
- Power generation
- Renewable energy developers –biomass, geothermal, hydro, solar, wind
- Shippers, including refiners and marketing companies
- Transportation and storage of crude oil, natural gas, and petroleum products
- Utility companies