Utilities & Energy Regulation
Quarles & Brady's Environmental Law Group has been representing the utility industry since the 1970s and brings together lawyers with substantial experience in the major environmental regulatory regimes applicable to the utilities and energy industry. Our services range from assisting clients on specific projects — such as the siting, environmental assessment and permitting of large electric generating units — to advising clients on a daily basis on compliance with the requirements of air, wastewater, wetlands and hazardous waste regulations. We also advise clients on the legal obligations and potential valuation factors affecting asset retirement obligations. Our team includes lawyers who understand the history of the myriad regulations applied to energy companies, including the implications on rate increases and interactions with state public service or utility commissions. We have extensive experience in litigating contested case proceedings in state administrative tribunals and before state courts as well as experience with environmental matters raised before state public utility commissions in rate cases and cases seeking Certificates of Need and Public Necessity. By working closely with clients to identify and manage risks, Quarles & Brady attorneys have enabled clients to complete first-of-their-kind projects.
Representative Engagements / Experience:
- Successfully litigating air permit challenges to the largest coal transshipment facility in North America.
- Representing a utility client in obtaining necessary regulatory approvals relating to a $7 billion generation expansion program, including:
- Construction of 1100 MW of natural gas-fired generation. We assisted the client in obtaining a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for the construction of that facility and defended that authorization in subsequent judicial review proceedings. We also assisted the client during the development of the Environmental Assessment of the project required by state law and defended that assessment in subsequent judicial review proceedings in a proceeding brought in part to challenge the climate change impacts of the facility.
- We obtained and defended from third-party challenges a NPDES wastewater permit for a 1260 MW facility. The permit included a “§316(a)” alternative effluent limitation for a thermal discharge to Lake Michigan, which required a demonstration that the limitation was protective of a balanced indigenous aquatic community in the Lake. We also obtained one of the first regulatory approvals of an offshore cooling water intake structure as “Best Technology Available” under EPA's “§316(b)” rule applicable to new facilities. That approval required a detailed assessment of the impact on aquatic communities in Lake Michigan and the costs of the open cycle system as compared to other alternatives.
- We obtained a Clean Air Act construction permit for a 1260 MW coal-fired, baseload electric generating facility. An administrative law judge ruled in favor of our client. The decision was one of the first in the nation to rule that Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) process technology was not required by law to be considered as an alternative air emission control technology in the BACT and LAER analyses for two proposed Super Critical Pulverized Coal (SCPC) generating units. The judge also upheld the state-law NEPA and alternatives analysis for the facility that is now under construction. We successfully settled judicial review of the ALJ’s decision. For the same facility, we were successful in defending the practicable alternatives analysis for a wetlands alteration permit and a shoreland dredging approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
- Obtaining Certificates of Authority to retrofit controls on 1400 MW and 1130 MW of existing coal-fired electric generating capacity. The first project was not challenged. We successfully defended the second project in the face of an administrative challenge regarding the alleged climate change impacts of the project as well as the impact of future carbon regulation scenarios on the economics of the project.
- Litigating challenges to the environmental assessment for a 1100 MW combined-cycle generating station.
- Obtaining NPDES permits containing 316(b) determinations under the Phase I rule and under Best Professional Judgment for direct-cooled steam electric generating stations.
- Providing environmental due diligence for the sale of the Point Beach Nuclear Power Plant.
- Providing environmental due diligence for the construction of wind farms in Wisconsin and Arizona.
- Providing ongoing consultation and advice regarding day-to-day compliance with the requirements of the New Source Review program, the New Source Performance Standards, the Title IV Acid Rain program, the NPDES program and future greenhouse gas regulatory requirements.
- Advising utility clients on day-to-day EH&S matters, including waste management, facility auditing and safety matters.
- Assisting with the investigation, remediation and management of historic MGP and coal ash disposal sites, including beneficial reuse and redevelopment issues.
For more information on how our Environmental Group can help you address potential or actual environment-related legal and business concerns, please contact Arthur A. Vogel Jr. at (414) 277-5545 or
, or your local Quarles & Brady attorney.