Goodin MacBride represents clients before California agencies that regulate electric and natural gas energy utilities, telecommunications providers, water utilities, and certain transportation companies. We also represent clients in appeals from regulatory agency decisions, and work with clients on legislative matters that affect regulatory law in California.
Our attorneys at Goodin MacBride have a great depth of expertise in California energy regulatory issues. We are active in the regulatory proceedings to transform California’s electricity portfolio to one powered entirely by renewable resources, to support California’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2045.
Our lawyers represent clients on a wide variety of topics in regulatory proceedings, including ratemaking for electric and natural gas utilities; infrastructure development, including development of transmission lines, renewable and fossil-fueled generation facilities, and gas storage fields; electric resource procurement; and programs to promote energy efficiency, demand response, smart grid technology, energy storage and renewable resource development.
In California, electricity is regulated by the CPUC, the CEC, the CAISO, and the boards of municipal utilities and Community Choice Aggregators. These entities oversee the purchase of energy resources, including renewable energy and energy storage resources; programs to meet the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals; energy efficiency programs; the reliability of the electric grid; power plant and transmission line siting; and the rates customers pay for electricity. Goodin MacBride attorneys pursue our clients’ interests in all of these forums.
Cogeneration, also known as combined heat and power (CHP), makes productive use of the heat that is a byproduct of many industrial processes to increase the efficiency of related thermal generation units. The firm’s attorneys advise and represent clients who develop and operate cogeneration units that are qualifying facilities or “QFs” under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, as well as other CHP companies working within other regulatory structures. Goodin MacBride attorneys have been active in representing QF clients through many years of demanding litigation and regulatory proceedings related to QF pricing for generation in California.
Energy Regulatory Agencies
Goodin MacBride attorneys practice before the full array of state and federal energy regulatory agencies. In California, our attorneys participate in all types of regulatory matters before the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Our attorneys also represent clients before the California Energy Commission (CEC), the California Air Resources Board (CARB), and the California Independent System Operator (CAISO). In addition, we have assisted our clients in proceedings before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) coordinates, controls and monitors the operation of the electric power transmission grid throughout most of California, and runs neutral markets for certain wholesale power transactions. Operating under the oversight of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), CAISO plays a key role in providing non-discriminatory access to the power grid for independent power producers and grid-scale energy storage projects.
Participation in the California power markets requires a clear understanding of CAISO operations and requirements. Goodin MacBride is well versed in the intricacies of the CAISO tariff and FERC regulations. The firm provides expert counsel to Participating Generators, Participating Transmission Owners, electric service providers (ESPs) or power marketers, scheduling coordinators (SCs), end users, and other market participants seeking to understand and comply with tariff requirements, negotiate power transactions, or be heard on important regulatory issues relating to CAISO.
Independent Gas Storage
In 1997, the state of California adopted a policy encouraging independent gas storage providers to enter the market and compete against the storage services provided by the state’s large investor-owned utilities.
Goodin MacBride was successful in obtaining certification from the Public Utilities Commission for the state’s first independent storage provider. Through its continuing representation of the “front runner” in California’s independent gas storage market, attorneys at Goodin MacBride have been leaders in helping to shape state policy on the regulation of such entities, and in assuring increased competitive opportunities for independent providers.
Interstate natural gas pipelines are regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and not by state commissions. Yet representation of interstate pipelines at state agencies, such as the California Public Utilities Commission, is critical to ensure that state policy and/or individual state utility tariffs are not structured in a manner that impedes competition between the interstate pipes and the in-state pipeline systems. In addition, of critical importance to the interstate pipes is assurance that California has sufficient infrastructure to receive their gas, which might otherwise be effectively blocked at the border.
Attorneys at Goodin MacBride have represented several major interstate pipelines in their efforts to secure effective state policies for ensuring entry of their gas into the state and allowing gas-on-gas competition to occur within California, unimpeded by anti-competitive rate structures of in-state utilities.
The California Legislature frequently considers legislation that can have powerful impacts on the energy and telecommunications regulated industries. As an example, the priorities of the entire electric utility industry have been reshaped by AB 32, the landmark legislation to require greenhouse gas reductions by electric utilities and other segments of the California economy.
Our firm works with a wide variety of clients, including government agencies, to monitor and analyze legislation, and to work with lobbyists to explain the impacts of legislation on customers, the business community and the state as a whole. Goodin MacBride attorneys have played key roles in drafting some of the most influential energy legislation of the past two decades.
The California Public Utilities Commission is vested with broad regulatory authority over companies that own and operate natural gas facilities for profit in California. This jurisdiction covers, among others, natural gas producers, transporters, and storage providers as well as the gas utilities that provide natural gas to customers. The CPUC’s jurisdiction pertains to numerous areas of operation, including certification to provide service, rate regulation, terms and conditions of service, sales of assets, and issuance of debt.
Attorneys at Goodin MacBride represent the various types of companies that fall under the Commission’s natural gas jurisdiction, including pipelines, utilities, gas producers and independent gas storage providers. Our attorneys also represent a wide variety of natural gas customers, including industrial, municipal and electric generation clients. Several of our partners represented both state agencies and private clients throughout the evolution of the deregulated natural gas market. Goodin MacBride lawyers have the experience and the capability to achieve whatever Commission approval is needed for the furtherance of each client’s goals.
Allocation of Energy Costs to Commercial and Residential Tenants
The cost of energy is a significant expense for the owners of commercial and multi-family residential properties in California. Goodin MacBride has led the effort to remove archaic restrictions on the ability of those owners to allocate energy costs to tenants.
In 2004 and 2005, the firm successfully sought removal of decades-old utility tariff provisions barring that allocation. The removal of the restrictions not only benefitted the owners but, as the California Public Utilities Commission recognized, advanced the state’s energy conservation goals by reducing the provision of energy on a flat rates basis.
Goodin MacBride remains the state’s most experienced law firm with respect to questions involving allocation of energy costs by owners of commercial and residential multi-family properties, including issues arising out the cost of providing hot water through central boilers and the allocation of energy charges through non-metered means such as a Ratio Utility Billing System (“RUBS”).