Skip Navigation

Website Sections

Legal Essentials for Utility Executives

Legal Essentials for Utility Executives

Legal Essentials for Utility Executives

The Institute for Energy and the Environment presents Legal Essentials for Utility Executives

Now in its second year! . . .

This rigorous, two-week course will provide electric utility executives with the legal foundation to more fully understand the utility regulatory framework, the role of federal and state energy regulatory commissions, and how to operate effectively within these structures. Beginning with the basic functions of government and building to the interplay among state, federal, and regional oversight when planning new energy infrastructure, the course offers a broad overview of the legal basics critical to operating an effective utility company.

Register Online Now

For 2013 the course is planned for two one-week sessions, in May and October.  Participants must attend both sessions to successfully complete the course.

WEEK ONE:  Sunday, May 19 - Saturday, May 25, 2013

Class Time: Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 9:00 a.m.-12 p.m.
Class Location: Schubert Conference Room, Trapp Family Lodge

Vermont Law School will provide overnight accommodations for participants at the:
Trapp Family Lodge 
700 Trapp Hill Road
Stowe, Vermont

WEEK TWO:  Sunday, October 6 - Saturday October 12, 2013

Class Time: Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 9:00 a.m.-12 p.m.
Class Location:
Vermont State House
Montpelier, Vermont   

Vermont Law School will provide overnight accommodations for participants at the:
Capitol Plaza Hotel
100 State Street, Montpelier, Vermont

Expectations: Participants will read 300 to 400 pages of material prior to the start of class and an additional 50 pages per evening during the course. Reading materials and assignments will be posted on-line and participants will receive a password to the secure site.  Participants will be evaluated based on a weekly exam and team presentations conducted on Saturday mornings. Participants who successfully complete the course will earn a certificate; participants must attend both week 1 in Stowe and week 2 in Montpelier.

Expected Class Size: 12 to 15

Registration: $12,000 tuition, plus $3,000 lodging and meals fee  for both weeks
(includes hotel room, breakfast and lunch Monday-Saturday, and books and course materials)

Register online or contact 802-831-1151 for more information.
Registration and Payment Deadline extended to May 1, 2013

Classes for 2013 are being developed and faculty participation is being confirmed; the model classes from 2012 (below) will be used as a basis for development.  Faculty may vary.

Week 1

Fundamentals of the U.S. Legal System

The course will begin with an overview of the roles of each of the three branches of government, the relationships between the branches, and an introduction to the “fourth” branch of government—the administrative agency and the Administrative Procedures Act.
Michael Dworkin, Vermont Law School
Professor of Law and Director of the Institute for Energy and the Environment

Working Effectively with Regulatory Agencies

Administrative and ethic laws define how regulatory agencies and utilities are allowed interact with each other. This course will discuss these and other common sense “rules” for developing a positive, legal relationship with regulatory commissioners and staff.
Alison Silverstein
Independent Consultant

Energy Regulatory Landscape

The evolution of the regulatory paradigm over the past century will provide participants with a greater appreciation for the role of federal and state energy commissions in the 21st century. The role of the FERC and state public service commissions will be examined, as well as landmark energy legislation of the past 80 years, including the FPA, PUCHA, PURPA, EPAct, and EISA.
Harvey L. Reiter, Stinson, Morrison, Hecker LLP

Transmission and Distribution Obligations

Participants will explore the several layers of state, regional, and federal oversight of new transmission and distribution infrastructure. Interconnection regulations, cost allocation, and the recent FERC Order 1000 will also be discussed.
Harvey L. Reiter, Stinson, Morrison, Hecker LLP

Raising Revenue from Wholesale and Retail Ratepayers

Participants will gain insight into the process for establishing retail rates through state regulatory commissions and wholesale rates through the FERC. Topics will include the cost of service ratemaking theory, the standard of review for utility investments, and the process for establishing an acceptable rate of return. Retail competition will be noted in less detail.
Edward L. Flippen, McGuireWoods LLP

Financing Emerging Energy Facilities: Wind, Solar, and Merchant Transmission

A variety of laws govern the development and financing of new energy technologies. Participants will develop an understanding of this legal framework including risk allocation, risk limitation, and timing issues.
Glenn J. Berger, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
Partner, Energy and Infrastructure Projects

ISOs, RTOs, Power Pools, and Power Purchase Agreements

FERC now grants some of its oversight responsibilities to Regional Transmission Organizations throughout the country. The role of these organizations in establishing wholesale rates for electricity and incentivizing new infrastructure, as well as concerns about market power, will be discussed.
Stuart A. Caplan, SNR Denton

Reporting and Compliance Obligations: The SEC and Related Law

This class will address the utility executive's obligations under the Securities Acts of 1933 and 1934, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and the recent Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Participants will also learn how to plan for and deal with the day-to-day realities of SEC regulations.
David P. Falck, Pinnacle West Capital Corporation
Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary

Special Considerations for Public Power: Municipal Utilities, Cooperatives, and Power Marketing Agencies

This course will explore the practical implications of the legal differences between traditionally regulated investor-owned utilities, and municipal and cooperative utilities, including establishing retail rates and governance. Special obligations of federal power marketing agencies and of cooperatives will both be addressed.

David Yaffe, Van Ness Feldman
Managing Partner, Energy Practice
Dr. Martin J. Lowery, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
Executive Vice President, External Affairs

Week 2

Participants will continue to explore resource choices with particular attention to the impact these laws have on utility decisions to build or acquire new infrastructure.

Nuclear Law

The nuclear regulatory paradigm will be discussed in terms of current legal and institutional structures, business and technological developments, and enduring issues. Mr. Bradford, a former Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner and Donald Irwin, a practicing lawyer in the nuclear realm, provide different perspectives on the law.
Peter A. Bradford, Vermont Law School
Adjunct Professor
Donald P. Irwin, Hunton & Williams LLP

Environmental Constraints

National environmental regulation affects where and how new energy infrastructure is built and operated. Participants will learn the basic components of the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the RCRA, and the FRAC Act, and how these laws impact utility decisions. Both siting and emissions issues will be considered.
William Pedersen, Perkins Coie
Of Counsel
Mark Latham, Vermont Law School
Professor of Law and Deputy Vice Dean

Innovation and Intellectual Property

Topics not usually associated with the utility industry, innovation and IP, are playing an increasingly important role in the utility sector. Participants will gain an appreciation of the importance and relevance of these issues to the future of the utility industry.
Dr. Michael W. Howard, P.E., Electric Power Research Institute
President and CEO
Norma G. Formanek, Electric Power Research Institute
Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Institute Governance

State and Federal Policies to Promote Clean Energy Development

Policies to promote renewable energy development, energy efficiency programs, and other clean energy resources abound at both the state and federal level. This class will focus on the impact these policies have on a utility's resource acquisition decisions and consequently on revenues, rates, and operations.
Nora Mead Brownell, ESPY Energy Solutions, LLC
Founding Partner

Emerging Legal Issues—Distributed Generation, the Smart Grid and Electric Vehicles

New technologies are being touted as potential game-changers in providing electricity service. This class will discuss the existing laws surrounding distributed generation and electric vehicles and preview potential policy solutions to ensuring benefits are realized for both the utility and its customers. Smart Grid applications and policy implications will also be discussed.
H. Russell Frisby, Jr., Stinson, Morrison, Hecker LLP

Corporate Law and Governance

Corporate law underlies utility decisions from purchased power agreements to acquiring a new business entity. This course will prepare participants to understand their responsibilities when executing a contract, the characteristics, benefits, and downsides of different corporate structures, and the basic laws surrounding acquisitions and mergers.
Oliver Goodenough, Vermont Law School
Professor of Law

Dealing with Lawyers: Yours and Others’

Knowing when, why and how to engage your legal team is key to developing a productive relationship. This class will define the role of the lawyer and empower participants to be more effective “clients.”
Deborah A. Amberg, ALLETE
Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary
Miggie E. Cramblit, Midwest Reliability Organization
General Counsel and Director of External Affairs

Register Online Now

About Vermont Law School

Vermont Law School has North America’s strongest law school program on the energy and environment interface, and the Institute for Energy and the Environment is a resource for energy law and policy at the international, national, and local levels. The institute’s research team produces technical and practical publications on pressing energy topics, including, among others, smart grid innovations, energy self-reliance, carbon sequestration, and renewable energy sources. The institute also facilitates forums and conferences for professional education and issue development, regularly hosts Distinguished Visiting Energy Scholars, and serves as a center for graduate research on energy issues.