As technological innovation, climate change, and shifting government regulations continue to disrupt the energy and utilities sector, we provide forward-thinking yet practical solutions to our clients’ most pressing challenges. Whether addressing complex transmission grid issues, securing water resources, or providing insight into government regulations (state, federal, and tribal), our multidisciplinary team brings the grit, innovation, and commitment clients need to leverage new opportunities in a turbulent environment.
Our lawyers bring extensive industry backgrounds, engineering and technical knowledge, and IP and regulatory experience to energy and utilities matters. Our work has been recognized by ranking publications on both the national and regional levels, including U.S. News – Best Lawyers®, The Legal 500, Colorado Law Week, Super Lawyers®, Nevada Business, and Arizona Business, among others. We also speak frequently before industry groups as well as legal and regulatory associations and committees.
Our balanced approach combines aggressive representation with the timely delivery of practical, effective legal services. Clients rely on our firsthand knowledge and understanding of the ever-changing energy industry to handle issues relating to:
- Acquisitions, developments, and divestitures
- Bankruptcy and creditors’ rights
- Business entity structuring and operations
- Construction disputes
- Corporate governance
- Eminent domain
- Enforcement actions
- Environmental and natural resources
- Government relations and contracts
- Intellectual assets
- Manufacturing, machinery, and equipment
- Mining and mineral rights
- Patent protection
- Real estate
- Regulatory compliance
- Reorganization and workouts
- Supply chain
- Trademark protection
- Tribal affairs
- Workplace compliance
- Zoning, planning, and land use
- Electric Distribution Cooperatives. Served as lead counsel in litigated state utilities commission proceeding related to the contested withdrawal of two electric distribution cooperatives from their membership in the generation and transmission cooperative. The matter involved the long-term, all-requirements wholesale electric service contract between the withdrawing member and the cooperative, on which the cooperative depends for system financing. Implications are relevant to, and were closely watched, by other cooperatives around the country.
- Regional Electric Utility. Provided strategic and regulatory advice to a regional electric utility in connection with an organizational change that would eliminate jurisdictional exemption under the Federal Power Act, thereby making the client subject to regulation by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rather than by state utility commissions in the four states in which it operates. Jurisdictional change is significant as state commissions may perceive it as depriving them of jurisdiction, and voluntary elimination of jurisdictional exemption has potential implications for other generation and transmission associations nationwide.
- Mining Corporation. Evaluated and resolved issues relating to private, federal, and state lands; water rights; utility corridors; community engagement; permitting; and contracting for a Canadian mining corporation that acquired a proposed open pit copper mine in southern Arizona. After our client received approval from the United States Forest Service and Army Corps of Engineers to proceed, we continue to assist the client in pursuing the necessary approvals along with advising the client regarding government relations matters.
- Royalty and Streaming Company. Advised a royalty and streaming company in evaluating an expansion of its business in the Southwest, including all manner of due diligence in the areas of environmental, natural resources, water, endangered species, mining claims, real estate, and financial.
- Lithium-Boron Producer. Advised an Australian-based lithium-boron producer in permitting and planning for the operation of a lithium-boron mine. Worked with the company to respond to litigation by the Center for Biological Diversity in regard to petitions at both the state and federal levels for inclusion of a species on the endangered lists. We also continue to assist in communicating with all levels of state and federal government with regard to the company’s plans and permitting.
- Copper Company. Counseled our client, a leading copper acquisition and development company, following the purchase of an abandoned mining property in Nevada, which is currently under the control of the EPA as a result of soil, air, and groundwater contamination resulting from the operations of former owners. Portions of the property are privately owned, while portions are owned by the Bureau of Land Management. As a result of this split ownership, as well as the environmental issues with the EPA, Nevada Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Land Management, Natural Resources Damages Council, and myriad other agencies, we have been retained to reduce to the extent possible the client becoming embroiled in the liabilities created by the former owners and operators.
- Wireless Company. Successfully represented a leading wireless company that provides service to low-income and qualifying customers in New Mexico through an affiliate. As an eligible telecommunications carrier (ETC), the company is eligible for funding through U.S. federal programs to provide a wireline lifeline program to low-income customers. We represented the affiliate in obtaining required regulatory approvals before the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (NMPRC) for ETC status. Since receiving approval, the company continues to increase its customer base, and in its most recent (October 2018) compliance filing in Case No. 14-00043-UT now has nearly 30,500 lifeline customers in New Mexico, almost a 150 percent increase over the previous year.
- Facilities-Based Telecom Company. Represented a facilities-based telecommunications company that provides wireless service to some of the most rural areas of northern New Mexico, including tribal land. Our client was awarded more than $16 million in funds by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) in an auction that was held by the FCC to build out wireless telecommunications infrastructure in rural parts of New Mexico. The award of funds by the FCC is undergoing review and approval by the NM Public Regulation Commission.
- International Wireless Association. Served as lead counsel for briefs and oral arguments for an international wireless association in all regulatory matters within the state of New Mexico, including rule-makings and litigation before the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (NMPRC) and litigation appeals. As a result of statutory changes, the NMPRC is revising its rules again, consistent with changes at the FCC. We worked on a new rule that was implemented by the NMPRC in 2018 and also challenged proposed changes for assessing payments into the state fund assessed primarily on wireless customers.
- Conservation Organization. Counseled a not-for-profit organization that is working to conserve the lands and waters in more than 70 countries around the world. The conservancy has retained our team to assist in the adjudication of surface water rights in the Arizona General Stream Adjudication. Specifically, we are advising on the conservancy’s holdings throughout southern Arizona and have recently begun advising the conservancy regarding its holdings in the Verde River Watershed.
- Real Estate Developer. Advising a privately owned home builder that is developing resort-style housing communities in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington, and Texas. Our team assists in securing and documenting water rights for the Arizona Homes Division, including the water supply for land and infrastructure development and all legal and regulatory issues that may arise, such as water rights purchases, complex regulatory issues, permitting, and compliance.
- Holding Company. Assisted a private holding company with financing a proposed copper mine in southeast Arizona. As part of that assignment, we assisted with due diligence related to environmental, permitting, property ownership, and leasing concerns. Our work included an analysis of the ownership of patented and unpatented mining claims, the impacts of several existing leases and royalties related to the mine, various tax issues, and the sufficiency of the environmental permits held by the mine. In addition, we assisted with the negotiation and drafting of various credit and intercreditor agreements, guarantees, and supporting documents. Since the loan closing, we have assisted the client with efforts to foreclose on the mining property following default, including negotiating various forbearance documents, negotiations with administrative agencies, and obtaining court approval of a trustee sale of the property.
- Water and Waste Water Association. Representing a water and waste water association serving several thousand customers outside the city of Albuquerque. Several years ago, our client purchased water rights for their water system. Those water rights were severed from the land. A subsequent purchaser of the land has filed suit, claiming that the water rights were never properly separated from the land. The association board hired us to act as independent counsel in the litigation, which was filed in state district court (Case No. D-101-CV-2017-01221).
- Water Utility. Representing a New Mexico water utility, who hired us based on a recommendation by other counsel to assist the members in protecting and preserving water rights and defending their rights in a stream adjudication in United States federal court involving more than 89 parties. (Rio Chama Stream System, Section 7, sub file No. CHRB-001-0002.) Through detailed work with both the Office of the State Engineer (OSE) and private engineers, we obtained more than $6 million worth of water rights not originally offered by the state. Not only was a stipulation entered into with the OSE, but the stipulation was approved by the federal court, and our client was given until 2041 to put all of its water to beneficial use. This work is ongoing, most recently including a request for proposal for engineering and a replacement/supplemental well for an additional water source for more than 150 residential lots.
Latest from Lewis Roca
- Insight |  10/11/2021
- Honors & Recognitions |  08/19/2021
- Webinar |  06/29/2021