We regularly counsel and represent energy utilities, investors and customers in proceedings, litigation and other administrative matters involving the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) and other state and federal regulatory agencies.
We have longstanding relationships with PSCW leadership and staff, and our practice group includes former senior PSCW lawyers and advisors.
We have advised and represented before the PSCW and other regulatory agencies:
- A large transmission-only utility in securing regulatory approvals associated with its corporate reorganization
- A large transmission-only utility in securing construction approval for high-voltage transmission facilities
- Generation and distribution utilities in connection with rate changes, affiliated interest transactions, and the purchase or sale of renewable energy generating assets
- Utilities and investors in connection with the Wisconsin Utility Holding Company Act
- Large energy customers in connection with rate case proceedings, construction requests and other industrial tariff matters
- Independent power producers in connection with their energy projects and PSCW dockets that may affect those projects
- Indian tribes primarily in connection with the development of Wisconsin’s renewable energy policy
- Governmental entities and companies subject to PSCW dispute jurisdiction in contested complaint proceedings
Godfrey & Kahn maintains a diverse energy client base that gives us a unique perspective and skill set that supports creative problem solving and efficient and effective regulatory advocacy. In addition, because of our broad depth of experience with environmental and energy matters, as well as business, tax, real estate and other practice areas, we can provide full-service counsel for the successful development of energy projects.
Godfrey & Kahn represents public utilities and other energy stakeholders in proceedings before the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) and in judicial review court actions.
Appellate Judicial Review Proceedings
Alliant Energy Corp. v. Bie
Godfrey & Kahn represented a Wisconsin public utility as amicus, in support of the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW), in Alliant’s constitutional challenge to the Wisconsin Utility Holding Company Act (WUHCA). Together with the PSCW, Godfrey & Kahn’s efforts were instrumental in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision upholding as constitutional the principal elements of WUHCA, which remains in effect today.
American Transmission Company v. Dane County
Godfrey & Kahn represented American Transmission Company regarding a dispute with a local governmental authority about transmission construction projects that were authorized by Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN). Based on preliminary motions, the circuit court issued a declaratory ruling that local ordinances were preempted by the CPCNs issued to the transmission company. The trial court ruling was upheld in the appellate court.
Clean Wisconsin, Inc. v. PSCW
Godfrey & Kahn represented a Wisconsin public utility and other energy stakeholders in support of the PSCW’s authorization to construct a $2.2 billion power plant. The authorization was upheld by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Wisconsin Industrial Energy Group v. PSCW
Godfrey & Kahn represented an association of large energy customers that sought to clarify procedures for approval of Wisconsin public utility construction projects located in other states.
PSCW Contested Case Proceedings
American Transmission Company
Godfrey & Kahn served as outside counsel in the regulatory approval of American Transmission Company’s (ATC) proposed corporate reorganization. The reorganization allows certain ATC member-owners to hold interests in the company’s non-Wisconsin business development opportunities, while also preserving the other ATC member-owners’ interests in the company’s Wisconsin-based transmission business. Godfrey & Kahn provided regulatory counsel throughout proceedings before the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin and the Illinois Commerce Commission, both of which approved the proposed transaction and associated affiliated interest agreements.
Godfrey & Kahn represented ATC in its application to the PSCW for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) to build two, 48-mile long high voltage transmission lines in Northeast Wisconsin. After a two-day hearing, contested by affected landowners, the Citizens’ Utility Board, and Clean Wisconsin, the PSCW approved the application.
Godfrey & Kahn regularly represents ATC in condemnation litigation in trial and appellate courts.
Catalyst Paper Corporation
Godfrey & Kahn represented a large paper mill in Wisconsin Rapids, opposing the local electric utility’s proposed rate increase before the PSCW. The rate case proceeding involved several contested issues, including rate design, industrial interruptible credits, return on equity, and other issues unique to the utility’s electric service territory. Godfrey & Kahn helped to secure favorable outcomes for the paper mill on nearly all of the contested issues.
University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents
Godfrey & Kahn represented the interests of the University of Wisconsin-Madison when it intervened in the local utility’s application to increase rates. These cases included complex tariff terms and rate design, and were vigorously contested.
PSCW Complaints and Declaratory Disputes
Godfrey & Kahn has represented governmental entities and companies involved in contested proceedings related to the PSCW’s authority to resolve complaints. Examples include cable companies’ complaint contending a city’s pole attachment rates were unreasonable and a dispute related to a sewer district’s rates. Godfrey & Kahn has also represented public utilities and other stakeholders that have petitioned the PSCW for declaratory rulings.
Other Energy Regulatory Matters
Godfrey & Kahn often counsels and advises clients regarding transactions and other circumstances which may involve energy regulatory concerns.
Distributed Generation Projects
Godfrey & Kahn represented an investor group in a proposed 100 MW bio-fuel generation project.
Godfrey & Kahn assisted a landfill generation facility with renegotiation of electric output consistent with legal limitations on electricity sales.
Godfrey & Kahn counsels solar developers regarding regulatory limitations on non-utility electric sales.
Power Plant Transactions
LS Power Co-Generation
Godfrey & Kahn acted as local counsel representing the equity investors in the LS Power co-generation project located in Whitewater, Wisconsin. We had primary legal responsibility for ensuring that all state agency permit and authorizations required for this facility were in place. This was the first independent power project authorized in Wisconsin.
Little Rapids Corporation Sale of Hydroelectric Facility
Godfrey & Kahn provided all of the legal services necessary to Little Rapids Corporation in its divestiture and sale of a dam, related infrastructure and associated hydroelectric generation facility to North American Hydro. This project included FERC regulatory compliance issues and negotiation of a power purchase agreement. In addition, Godfrey & Kahn resolved complex real estate and land title issues to retain cross-easements and industrial access rights. The hydroelectric generation facility was associated with and divested from, a paper mill and related business operations.
Minergy-Neenah, LLC Co-Generation Facility
Godfrey & Kahn provided all of the legal services to Minergy-Neenah, LLC, the owner operator of a biomass, co-generation facility located in Neenah, Wisconsin. Its fuel source included dewatered paper mill sludge from four area paper mills and the host was a paper mill located adjacent to the facility. Our legal services included the negotiation of all Minergy’s power purchase contracts in the sale to Alliant Energy of the green energy generated from Minergy’s facility.
Plainwell Paper Company Co-Gen Facility Purchase
Godfrey & Kahn represented Plainwell Paper Company in its purchase of a co-generation facility from Simpson Paper Company in California. As part of this engagement, Godfrey & Kahn renegotiated all of the power purchase contracts relating to this facility.
Point Beach Nuclear Power Plant Due Diligence
Godfrey & Kahn provided all state-related due diligence (regulatory, real estate, environmental and employment) work for a final round bidder in connection with the sale of the Point Beach Nuclear Power Plant.
Other Energy Engagements
Governor’s Task Force on Global Warming
Godfrey & Kahn represented an Indian tribe in connection with the Governor’s Task Force on Global Warming.
Negotiation of Energy Tariffs
Godfrey & Kahn has represented large energy users in connection with negotiating tariffs and contracts with Wisconsin public utilities.
PSCW Wind Siting Council
A Godfrey & Kahn shareholder and member of the Practice Group served on the Wisconsin Wind Siting Council, a statutory body charged with advising the PSCW on administrative rules governing the local regulation of wind generation facility siting throughout Wisconsin.
State of Wisconsin Renewable Energy
Godfrey & Kahn acted as a special consultant for the State of Wisconsin on reviewing the responses to a Request for Proposals (RFP) for renewable energy. This RFP was designed to meet the new state law requiring 20% of all state of Wisconsin facilities energy needs be met by qualified renewable energy.
Wisconsin Initiative Seeking Energy Reform
Godfrey & Kahn had primary responsibility for the formation of WIser, an energy user group whose principal focus is lobbying for changes in Wisconsin energy law for end users. We successfully assisted WIser in changing Wisconsin law to allow electric energy users—for the first time—to enter individual contracts for the purchase of energy. Members of WIser included some of the largest manufacturing companies with facilities located in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin Public Service Corporation – Wind Siting
On behalf of a large, regional investor-owned utility, Godfrey & Kahn negotiated the conditional use permits and land use regulations pertaining to one of Wisconsin’s first multi-tower, utility-scale wind farms. The firm’s work included the resolution of controversial political issues with local township governmental units, leasing issues, FAA-regulated airport issues, FCC-regulated radio and television interference issues and infrastructure/tower construction issues.