Keegan Werlin has a team of attorneys with unmatched experience dealing with complex energy and regulatory issues. The firm combines its legal and regulatory expertise with a thorough understanding of the technical, strategic and financial issues emerging in the industry to provide successful and cost-effective representation of its clients’ interests. Members of the firm have extensive backgrounds in regulation and government, including two former chairmen of the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, a former commissioner, a former general counsel, as well as several former hearing officers. Other attorneys in the firm have worked as in-house counsel to large utility companies and as staff to members of the Massachusetts Legislature. The diversity and extent of experience among Keegan Werlin’s attorneys facilitates high-quality service to a broad array of clients in the regulatory and energy fields.
The Massachusetts Electric Restructuring Act of 1997 (the “Restructuring Act”) mandated the restructuring of the electric industry in the state and encouraged both the divestiture of generating assets and the creation of “wires only” electric companies. In recent years, Keegan Werlin has been involved in all aspects of the electric industry restructuring processes before the MDPU and in other states in the region. Active participants in the energy market are confronted with significant opportunities and challenges in planning and providing for the electricity needs of their customers in the restructured marketplace. Retail customer choice, a deregulated power market, the restructuring of the New England Power Pool, and the divestiture of generation by the resident electric utilities present complex issues that must be addressed by successful players in the new market. Moreover, awareness and compliance with the regulatory framework is absolutely necessary to succeed in the region.
Keegan Werlin has participated actively in state proceedings relating to electric industry restructuring, including those proceedings undertaken to establish the regulations applicable to competitive suppliers, energy brokers, aggregators and related terms and conditions of service. Further, our attorneys have represented clients in proceedings before the MDPU regarding mergers, restructuring, facility divestiture, rate levels, and rate design. Keegan Werlin’s clients include various electric utilities, generating companies, transmitters of electricity, large energy users such as hospitals and universities, and competitive suppliers. Massachusetts was one of the first states in the country to implement a deregulated electricity market, and the MDPU is among the leaders nationally in implementing a restructured energy industry. In addition to Keegan Werlin’s vast experience with Massachusetts’ regulation of the electric industry, the firm also closely tracks the development of industry restructuring processes in many other state jurisdictions as well as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. As a result, our attorneys are intimately familiar with the competitive issues relating to industry restructuring, the electricity market, power supply issues and transmission at both the state and federal levels.
Keegan Werlin has represented various clients in the area of gas regulation, including local gas distribution companies (“LDCs”) and natural gas interstate pipelines. The firm has done extensive work regarding the emerging issues that affect LDCs, including rate and service unbundling, exiting the merchant function, and developing terms and conditions of service in order to facilitate competition in the current industry. In addition, Keegan Werlin attorneys have represented clients before state agencies and at the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in cases regarding performance-based ratemaking and the development of service-quality performance standards. The firm has assisted in the preparation and adjudication of long-range planning matters in order to meet regulatory requirements to forecast and plan for the needs of their customers over the long term.
As with the electric industry, the gas industry has undergone significant structural changes at the state and local levels. The increased reliance on competitive market forces has changed the legal and regulatory environment for LDCs, suppliers, marketers and consumers. Keegan Werlin has been at the forefront of the development of regulatory and legislative initiatives, representing LDCs before the MDPU and presenting testimony at hearings considering the appropriate government response to an industry in transition. The firm has led the collaborative effort to prepare tariffs, terms and conditions and rate-design changes needed to implement the expansion of customer choice in the gas industry.
Keegan Werlin also has an active practice involving the regulation of the telecommunications industry. For the past 15 years, state and national regulatory policies have supported increased levels of competition for providers of telecommunications services. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was a culmination of the development of national competitive telecommunications markets. Our attorneys have advised and represented telecommunications clients before the state MDPU in many aspects of the emerging regulatory environment.
Keegan Werlin has appeared in regulatory proceedings relating to such diverse issues as performance-based ratemaking, arbitrations of disputed interconnection agreements under the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the review of a petition to enter the long-distance market and the siting of cellular telecommunications towers. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 has established detailed requirements with regard to the relationship between incumbent local exchange carriers and competitive carriers, which has required regulatory consideration of the rates and terms of service. Keegan Werlin attorneys have appeared in multi-year, litigated adjudications before the MDPU to establish the regulatory rules for local competition.
Siting and Licensing
The Restructuring Act has provided energy project developers new opportunities to site electric generating, transmission and storage facilities in the Commonwealth. Streamlining the review of such facilities, the Restructuring Act requires detailed review of a variety of issues, depending on the proposed facility, including environmental impacts, site selection, need and cost, technology performance standards and alternative technologies. Keegan Werlin’s attorneys are extremely well-versed on the technical, regulatory and legal issues associated with securing necessary approvals for meeting state siting requirements, Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act standards, and securing air permits, water-related permits, wetlands approval, site plan and local zoning approval.
Keegan Werlin’s energy practice also includes the representation of private energy project developers and public utilities in both the electric and gas industries in their efforts to construct and operate jurisdictional generating, transmission and energy-storage facilities. In navigating clients through these permitting processes, Keegan Werlin has frequently represented developers before the state’s Energy Facilities Siting Board, Executive Office of Environmental Affairs and Department of Environmental Protection, as well as at the municipal level before various local permitting authorities.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Keegan Werlin attorneys have extensive experience in mergers and acquisitions involving electric and gas companies in the New England region. The firm both advises clients on regulatory issues associated with mergers and acquisitions and represents clients in agency proceedings to secure the necessary approvals for such transactions. Keegan Werlin attorneys have also been actively involved in the development of rate plans, including the recovery of acquisition premiums and the development of quality-of-service standards, in order to meet requirements necessary to achieve regulatory approval for mergers and acquisitions.
Keegan Werlin has represented electric and gas utilities as well as a number of large industrial users of energy services in their efforts to buy or sell electricity and natural gas. When representing these utility companies and energy users, Keegan Werlin brings its unique experience in the regulatory arena, its substantive knowledge of the energy industry and its understanding of the developing competitive markets to serve its clients’ interests. The firm has represented: electric companies in their divestiture of generating assets and purchase-power agreements pursuant to the Restructuring Act; energy companies in bidding on electric generation assets being sold through divestiture auctions; and natural gas local distribution companies in their outsourcing of their gas portfolio and in other transactions with large customers. KW’s attorneys have also negotiated a variety of energy procurement agreements for electricity or gas on behalf of large commercial and industrial customers. Further, attorneys in the firm have served an array of independent power projects by negotiating numerous power sale agreements, transmission and interconnection agreements.
Keegan Werlin represents clients in matters before the various courts of the Commonwealth, including the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Because a great deal of our energy regulatory work proceeds in administrative agencies, intervenors and unsuccessful parties may seek judicial review of the various agency decisions. In concert with Keegan Werlin’s litigation section, the energy practice group prepares for and argues these appeals. Recent appeals in which KW has represented clients include issues regarding the recovery of stranded costs, siting and licensing of energy facilities, performance-based ratemaking, and mergers and acquisitions. By blending technical energy regulatory expertise with extensive litigation experience, the firm provides a comprehensive and complete service to our clients in the energy regulatory field.
In addition to energy, gas and environmental regulation, attorneys at KW have expertise with the insurance rate setting process within Massachusetts and with the Massachusetts Division of Insurance. Firm members have represented the State Rating Bureau in rate-setting matters relating to the issues of losses, rate of return and industry-wide cost incurrence. Furthermore, KW attorneys have served as hearing officers in rate-setting proceedings and have participated in judicial appeals regarding insurance rate setting rendered by the Commissioner of the Division of Insurance.