Energy

Success Stories

Bringing Energetic Perspective against Passionate Resistance

From 2000 to 2005, Quarles & Brady took part in a case that ended up in the Wisconsin Supreme Court, concerning the largest construction project in the state’s history. Opposition to the client's power plant was mounted by area businesses, environmentalists, and independent power producers, all of whose views Quarles & Brady understood and respected. Quarles & Brady needed to put in perspective the project’s economics, engineering, environmental impacts, health aspects, and other factors in the face of organized, well-funded, and passionate resistance. In spite of that opposition, the project won the approval of the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, but the agency’s ruling was then challenged in court. Ultimately, the case was heard by the State Supreme Court, which affirmed the Public Service Commission's approval of the project "in all respects."

Preventing Energy Customer Overcharges

One of Quarles & Brady's large, commercial industrial clients was faced with a massive rate increase from its local utility, amounting to tens of millions of dollars annually. As with most rate cases, public utilities provide evidence of the need to raise rates through studies that show usage and the costs of generating power to meet it. Our team was able to dig into the utility’s rate study, more fully comprehend its data collection methodology than many other legal teams might, and determine that the utility had assigned to the client the costs of maintaining energy-producing facilities that did not serve the client. Once that fact had been uncovered, the utility’s argument for raising the client’s rates broke down, and the increase was eventually withdrawn.

Helping Municipalities and Utilities Play Well Together

Sometimes, avoiding litigation entails seeing the larger picture and realizing that adversaries may have more in common than they have differences. While representing a municipality in a dispute with its local utility, Quarles & Brady examined both sides of the issue and determined that the ideal solution was legislative rather than litigious. We brought together the two parties to address new legislation, partnering with the client to protect its interests while the utility focused on reliability issues that had plagued the municipality and led to the standoff. As a result, the utility succeeded in persuading the state to adopt new smart grid legislation, and the client municipality was able to receive smart grid updates to its power infrastructure that eliminated the reliability problems as well as the need to go to court over them.

Building an Environment for Alternative Gas and Electric Suppliers

Quarles & Brady has ostensibly created the competitive energy market in the State of Illinois—by representing commercial suppliers of energy before they had a market in which to compete with utilities, helping to build the landscape to allow for competitive commerce, and working with all sides to create the rules by which the market now works. As a result, Illinois is home to both public and private energy providers, creating a more robust market and helping to control rates.

Developing Energy Project Developers

Major energy suppliers count on Quarles & Brady to help them with all aspects of project development. For example, one such client is engaged in developing a $3 billion facility, and we are assisting in all facets of the project, from legislation to litigation, to media and project development strategies.