Energy

Downey Brand attorneys possess the knowledge and experience to help clients navigate virtually every aspect of California’s energy market. Our attorneys represent clients in all aspects of energy project development, generation, transmission, storage, procurement, environmental permitting, regulatory compliance, administrative proceedings, and litigation.

Our attorneys routinely represent clients before the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the California Energy Commission (CEC), the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), the Office of Energy Infrastructure Safety (OEIS), and the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Our expertise extends from conventional gas-fired generation and petroleum pipelines and terminals to all types of renewable generation and cutting-edge technologies. We have represented developers, regulated utilities, generators, electric and natural gas service providers, oil pipelines, financial institutions, local governments, and other energy market stakeholders in a wide array of regulatory and litigation matters. Our attorneys understand the unique challenges posed by California’s legal and regulatory environment for energy projects and market participants, and we have the expertise to help our clients navigate those challenges.


Selected Experience

  • Represented Trans-Elect as state regulatory counsel for the Path 15 Upgrade Project in partnership with WAPA and PG&E. This major upgrade of the Central Valley transmission link between northern and southern California was the first privately-financed high voltage transmission project in the U.S.
  • Represented Wild Goose Storage, LLP in obtaining the first certificate of public convenience and necessity for an independent natural gas storage provider in California and three subsequent approvals for expansions of that facility.
  • Represented energy company on EIR for expansion and development of oil wellfield and construction of pipeline for importation of recycled water for oil production activities. The EIR addressed major issues including climate change and air quality, endangered species, public safety and emergency response, and water quality.
  • Advised energy clients on successful applications for air permits for new equipment including generators, and compost operations and digesters. These complex permit applications include review of best Available Control Technology, New Source Review (NSR), and Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) requirements, modeling, emission reduction credits, and offsets.
  • Advised a purchaser of grid-scale solar photovoltaic projects and prepared an analysis of regulatory and permitting risks of more than 30 solar facilities.
  • Performed a due diligence analysis of regulatory issues for the financing of several large energy storage facilities.
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Renewable Generation Projects

  • Represented several lenders in connection with all real estate aspects of financings secured by solar and wind generation projects located in California.
  • Represented NextEra Energy in providing regulatory review of tariffs, power purchase agreements, environmental permitting, and transactional documents in connection with the sale of the Shaffer Solar and Adelanto I and II solar projects.
  • Obtained the first Renewables Portfolio Standard certification for an out-of-country generation facility.
  • Advised a public water and energy agency on an EIR for a 200 MW photovoltaic solar farm located in Southern Owens Valley.
  • Land use and environmental due diligence for transmission (gen-tie) line, high voltage substation, and 60-turbine wind energy generation project (252 MW).
  • Represented two utility-scale solar developers in rehearing before the California Public Utilities Commission on CEQA compliance for the El Dorado/Ivanpah Transmission Project, a project to install a new substation and transmission line upgrades in San Bernardino County.
  • Secured retroactive eligibility for several months’ worth of Renewable Energy Credits for three solar projects.
  • Advised a large automaker regarding the use of landfill gas to generate energy and to power boilers at several manufacturing facilities.  This representation also involved representing a coalition of auto manufacturers in EPA’s development of National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Boilers.

Traditional Generation and Energy Resources

  • Represented Babcock & Brown and Pattern Energy in the development, permitting, and construction of the Trans Bay Cable Project, a 400 MW direct current underwater transmission cable linking Pittsburg, CA with San Francisco, providing the first additional transmission connection for the isolated San Francisco electric grid.
  • Represented PacifiCorp in the sale of its Deer Creek Mine assets, obtaining authorization for the sale of the assets.
  • Advised clients on compliance with Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and California State Fire Marshal pipeline safety and spill response planning requirements. Land use, environmental, and real estate entitlements and permitting work to support replacement of oil transmission pipeline over three counties and private, state, and federal lands.
  • Land use and environmental due diligence for a 240-megawatt natural gas-fired combustion gas turbine electrical power generating plant.
  • Negotiated a significant reduction in gas transportation rates for a large gas-fired generator.
  • Provided regulatory advice and representation for the developer of two large upgrades to the California electric transmission system.

Air Quality Compliance

  • Advised an operator of a cogeneration facility on air permit amendments and compliance issues for a gas-fired turbine. Assisted clients with acquiring air permits for installation of gas turbines at peaker plants in California.  The work involved advocating for Best Available Control Technology determinations regarding greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Advised energy clients on the mechanics of and obligations under Cap-and-Trade, following its implementation.
  • Developed an overarching greenhouse gas emissions analysis and mitigation strategy for an oil and gas extraction project.

Representative Litigation

  • Led legal team in advising and defending power facility owners and operating partner in enforcement action filed by Circuit Prosecutor for alleged discharge and placement of material into wetlands
  • Defended a biomass power facility against enforcement action by county air pollution control district alleging hundreds of violations of county, state, and federal air quality regulations and permit requirements.
  • Represented an energy company in CAA enforcement action by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, alleging five years of violations at a central valley biomass power plant.
  • Represented a petroleum company in parallel state and federal enforcement actions involving the release of thousands of barrels of oil from an oil pipeline in the Los Angeles Region. The matter involved claims under the Clean Water Act and California Fish & Game Code, as well as claims of Unfair Competition under Business & Professions Code 17200.
  • Represented a major oil company in connection with extensive remediation matters for terminals, including related litigation regarding natural resource and development damage claims.
23 Attorneys

Samuel E. Bivins

Senior Associate

Sacramento 916.520.5209

Brian T. Cragg

Partner

San Francisco 415.848.4813

Michael B. Day

Partner

San Francisco 415.848.4804

Matthew W. Ellis

Partner

San Francisco 415.848.4846

Reno 775.786.5443

Partner

San Francisco 415.848.4810

Steven H. Goldberg

Partner

Sacramento 916.520.5231

Nicole E. Granquist

Partner

Sacramento 916.520.5369

Hina Gupta

Senior Associate

San Francisco 415.848.4834

Breana M. Inoshita

Associate

San Francisco 415.848.4854

Natalie Kirkish

Natalie C. Kirkish

Senior Associate

San Francisco 415.848.4844

Thomas J. MacBride, Jr.

Of Counsel

San Francisco 415.848.4842

Christian L. Marsh

Partner

San Francisco 415.848.4830

Scott D. McElhern

Partner

Sacramento 916.520.5367

Partner

San Francisco 415.848.4820

Scott L. Shapiro

Managing Partner

Sacramento 916.520.5234

Reno 775.329.5900

Nirvesh Sikand

Associate

San Francisco 415.848.4835

Megan J. Somogyi

Partner

San Francisco 415.848.4829

Robert P. Soran

Partner

Sacramento 916.520.5364

James D. Squeri

Of Counsel

San Francisco 415.848.4831

Danielle Stephens

Danielle R. Stephens

Partner

Sacramento 916.520.5475

Megan V. Unger

Associate

San Francisco 415.848.4828

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