California Energy

Latham & Watkins guides participants in the energy industry in California through every stage of developing, investing in, and defending complex infrastructure projects, as well as representing clients in proceedings before the California Public Utilities Commission, the California Energy Commission, and the California Independent System Operator.

Generating Effective Strategies and Successful Representation

Latham lawyers develop effective legal strategies for clients in California on diverse projects ranging from rooftop solar stations to interstate transmission lines, large-scale power generation, and smart grid networks. The firm skillfully navigates high-stakes purchases, sales, and financings, as well as intricate permitting, entitlement, pricing, and environmental review issues for a wide range of energy projects, including power plants, transmission lines, and renewable energy projects. Latham also adeptly advises and represents clients in ratemaking proceedings, accident investigations, procurement practices, safety standards, contractor oversight, and ethics issues associated with the energy sector.

The firm represents a variety of key participants active in the energy industry, including:

  • Alternative energy companies
  • Electric-generating transmission and distribution utilities
  • Generation owners and operators
  • Independent power producers
  • Investor-owned utilities
  • Private equity, infrastructure, and venture capital investors
  • Public and municipal utilities
Delivering Diverse Experience

Latham draws on more than four decades of experience advising clients across the length and breadth of California’s power industry. With a long history of working before the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the California Energy Commission (CEC), and the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), Latham has strong working relationships with Commissioners and staff, as well as a detailed knowledge of the associated intricate administrative procedures.

Latham’s market-leading environmental and regulatory practice in California works seamlessly as part of the largest team of full-time environmental and energy practitioners of any firm globally. The firm is well-positioned to help clients in the energy sector navigate a complex labyrinth of federal, state, and regional policies and regulations. The firm has been actively involved in the development of energy regulatory law, with particular experience in:

  • California Environmental Quality Act
  • California Public Utilities Code
  • Clean Air Act
  • Clean Water Act
  • Endangered Species Act
  • National Environmental Policy Act
  • Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act

Latham advises clients based on a comprehensive understanding of project siting, contracting, and financing practices that are unique to California’s energy market.

The firm’s combination of advocacy, negotiation, and dealmaking skills helps clients succeed in the state’s highly regulated and litigious operating environment.

Bringing Solutions to Light

Latham lawyers have successfully advised on a range of notable regulatory, transactional, and litigation matters involving the energy industry in California.

Significant representative matters include:

  • Represented a major California utility in connection with deployment of an innovative hybrid storage/gas turbine system at existing peaker power plants.
  • Advised a client on natural gas policy issues, including actions being taken by the CPUC, the CEC, the California Air Resources Board, and the CAISO.
  • Obtained numerous approvals from various federal and state agencies, including the CPUC, for a major California utility developing a US$1 billion 117-mile transmission line (both 500/230-kV), running through federal, state, and private lands to deliver renewable energy. Latham successfully secured approvals, including: CEQA/NEPA environmental review, the California Public Utilities Commission Certificate of Public Need and Convenience, the Bureau of Land Management Record of Decision to issue rights-of-way, the US Fish and Wildlife Service biological opinion, and the US Forest Service Record of Decision to issue a special use permit. Latham then successfully defended all litigation brought against the project in both state and federal court. 
  • Advised an energy company on permitting and developing a 563-megawatt hybrid power plant: natural gas fired integrated with 50 megawatts of solar thermal generation. The work involved obtaining permits from the EPA, consultation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and a siting certification from the CEC.
  • Developed strategy for response to community choice aggregation initiatives and marketing claims.
  • Negotiated settlements approved by the CPUC concluding investigations into utility contractor safety oversight and major urban power outages.
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