Energy Law

Energetic ideas powered by those who know the lay of the land.

The energy industry is constantly undergoing significant change, and its vanguard includes Downs Rachlin Martin’s experienced and innovative energy attorneys. Following landmark policy initiatives implemented by the FERC, ISO-New England and the NERC to bolster the reliability of the U.S. high voltage electric grid in the aftermath of the 2003 blackouts, we assisted one of the state’s high voltage transmission providers with the successful development and build-out of several of New England's largest bulk transmission infrastructure upgrades.

Leading the charge.

Today, the energy industry faces new and enormous changes and challenges in response to federal and state policy initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas concentrations. Increasing renewable energy’s position in the regional power market has significantly increased the development of solar, wind and hydropower generation in the Northeast U.S. and Canada. The addition of these resources and the dramatic rise in inexpensive new gas supplies has in turn spurred the need for new electric and gas transmission interconnections and investment. Downs Rachlin’s energy law team is at the forefront of these developments.

Legal ingenuity in support of energy innovation.

We make it a point to learn and understand the most recent energy market and regulatory developments in order to provide our clients with the full menu of legal services in the emerging renewable energy, transmission, generation and natural gas markets. We are familiar with the ISO-New England and NERC transmission reliability and planning standards, including the alternatives analysis now required under ISO-New England transmission planning. Our lawyers have familiarity and capabilities with emerging New England regulatory and power markets issues, including Critical Energy Infrastructure Information (CEII). Utilizing project management skills, we collaborate with our clients to manage to project success. 

Local roots, global reach.

Downs Rachlin is the exclusive member firm in Vermont for Lex Mundi – the world’s leading network of independent law firms with in-depth experience in 100+ countries worldwide. As part of the Lex Mundi global network, we can provide our clients with preferred access to more than 21,000 lawyers around the world – all from a single point of contact.

Energy partners.

Downs Rachlin is a member of Renewable Energy Vermont, the Vermont Energy Partnership, the Northeast Energy and Commerce Association, and New England Women in Energy and the Environment.

Recent Accomplishments

As outside counsel to electric and gas utilities, generators and other market participants in major administrative proceedings, litigation and transactions involving both conventional resources as well as utility-scale solar, wind, hydro and biomass renewable generation, Downs Rachlin Martin's energy team has:

  • From 2010 through 2013, assisted our clients with the successful financing, acquisition, development, permitting and construction for over 12 MW of new photovoltaic electric generation facilities in Vermont.
  • In 2013, successfully gained siting approval for one of five regional photovoltaic testing facilities under the DOE’s SunShot Initiative.  
  • In 2013, obtained Vermont Public Utility Commission siting approval for the 41-mile Addison Rutland Natural Gas Project, the first phase of a natural gas expansion project that will extend natural gas to new communities in central and southern Vermont, and currently represent the company before the Public Utility Commission in connection with the siting proceeding to extend natural gas service to communities in western Vermont and to the Ticonderoga Paper Mill via a transmission line to be directionally drilled under Lake Champlain.
  • Played a key role in successfully negotiating and drafting a significant 26-year power purchase agreement among Vermont utilities and Hydro-Quebec Energy Services (US) Inc., and led the team of 20 Vermont utilities to obtain state regulatory approval.
  • Obtained Vermont Public Utility Commission approval for a 60-mile, 345 kV transmission reliability project, achieving the result ahead of schedule and budget, through settlements successfully negotiated with numerous agencies, landowners, and adverse parties.
  • Obtained Vermont Public Utility Commission approval for Vermont’s first statewide reliability expansion project, involving over 60 miles of new 345 kV and 115 kV electric transmission lines and 13 substation upgrades, and obtained a successful  Vermont Supreme Court ruling on appeal.
  • Successfully obtained many siting approvals for transmission line and substation projects for global transmission and energy company, including reconstruction of transmission line in Rockingham, Westminster, Putney, Dummerston and Brattleboro, VT.
  • Successfully obtained siting approvals for global transmission company for revitalization of 115 and 69kV substations in Southern Vermont, as well as in connection with construction of a new upgraded substation in Rockingham, VT.
  • Obtained siting approvals for reconductoring and refurbishment projects for global transmission and energy company for 230 kV transmission line and 115 kV transmission lines in Bennington and Windham Counties, VT, and for substation upgrades and line sectionalization in Wilmington and Searsburg, VT.
  • Obtained Vermont Public Utility Commission approval for a new phase-angle-regulator to reinforce the Plattsburgh-Vermont (PV-20) intertie, a critical 115 kV Vermont-New York intertie via a cable under Lake Champlain.
  • We were counsel to the New England utilities for the siting of 52 miles of the Quebec-New England HVDC Interconnection and the Highgate HVDC Converter Terminal, and represent the Vermont Highgate Joint Owners in connection with ongoing operations of the 225 MW Highgate Converter Terminal.
  • Obtained precedent setting Supreme Court ruling upholding the Public Utility Commission’s findings of necessity for awarding electric utility transmission easement rights by eminent domain.
  • Obtained regulatory approvals for the purchase of hydroelectric generating facilities along the Connecticut and Deerfield Rivers by foreign-owned energy companies
  • Obtained regulatory approvals for the acquisition of a national transmission company by a global transmission and energy company.
  • Obtained state siting approval for a 12 MW wind project in Chittenden County, Vermont’s first community-scale commercial wind farm.
  • Facilitated the purchase and sale of the state's largest generation station, while overseeing a multi-state and federal approval process.
  • Obtained approval for acquisition of one of Vermont’s largest electric distribution companies and the state’s only natural gas company by a foreign energy company.
  • Represented a renewable energy credit holder in challenging the validity of credits provided by biomass energy facilities.
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