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Briggs and Morgan provides full-service representation to a broad range of energy providers, public utilities, independent power producers, regional entities and other energy-sector participants. We work closely with clients in the purchase and sale of bulk power supplies, power marketing, infrastructure development and financing, siting and routing, environmental compliance and regulatory affairs. Diverse litigation services, from commercial and contract disputes to casualty and regulatory matters, are also prominent among the matters handled on behalf of our clients in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Texas and New Mexico.

Briggs has extensive experience with multi-Party, complex energy projects in the range of matters relating to energy infrastructure development, such as power plants and high voltage transmission, throughout the region. Briggs has worked successfully on many multi-party projects involving diverse and disparate interests, including with the Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO), Southwestern Power Pool (SPP), regional reliability organizations, investor-owned utilities, cooperative corporations, municipal utilities and other industry stakeholders. 

Briggs attorneys regularly handle matters before state and federal regulatory authorities such as the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, the North Dakota Public Service Commission, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Regulatory credibility is always critically important in energy matters and Briggs has an extremely strong reputation with this regulatory community. Our lawyers have also worked extensively on regulatory matters in Colorado, Michigan and Iowa. 

Our transmission permitting and contracting work has provided extensive knowledge and understanding of the relevant statutes and rules. We have worked extensively with MISO, SPP and FERC on numerous transmission interconnection issues, had a role in specialized provisions in MISO's pro forma tariff and have participated in several dozen interconnection agreements. We have also counseled transmission owners and providers with respect to myriad transmission service matters with both jurisdictional and non-jurisdictional counterparties. We are also actively involved in the regulatory landscape under FERC’s recent Order No. 1000 competitive transmission requirements.

Complementing our transmission business experience, Briggs provides sophisticated counsel in a wide variety of complex commercial transactions, with an emphasis on transactional strategy and structure, cooperative transactions among disparate constituents, negotiation and resolution of disputes among joint venture and other contracting parties, purchase and sale of public and private entities and divisions (including stock and asset acquisitions and divestitures), and restructuring and reorganization.

Our transactional lawyers have depth in several interdisciplinary areas of related law, including finance, securities, taxation, labor and employment relations, commercial dispute resolution analysis and litigation and corporate governance. We have a nationally-renowned public finance department that regularly engages in bond financings for infrastructure projects. This depth provides our clients timely, dependable and effective counsel in negotiations. Our transactional experience in the energy industry is extensive in all facets of the services described above.

We help clients obtain necessary authorizations to construct power plants and high-voltage electric transmission lines and have provided advice on a variety of related regulatory topics. We have had first- hand experience assisting clients to interpret and implement a variety of statutory mandates and other programs within the energy sector. For example, Briggs has worked extensively on wind, biomass and other renewable energy projects along with the statutory and regulatory compliance issues that arise with those projects. Briggs has spent considerable effort on other regulatory initiatives including the retrofit of coal-fired power plants and other initiatives designed to comply with emissions reductions programs.

Briggs advises public utilities on both short- and long-term power purchases, power plant acquisitions and financing, transmission system development, supplier and customer bankruptcy, and strategic positioning for potential industry restructuring throughout the state. We have represented both buyers and sellers of electricity in numerous transactions involving over 4000 megawatts. Minnesota law cites significant requirements for the generation and purchase of renewable energy resources, where we have negotiated contracts involving various relevant resources. We have recently negotiated a full array of contracts covering the engineering, procurement and construction of major power plant facilities and have assisted clients in the acquisition of turbines, boilers and other major equipment.

Representative Matters

Regulatory Matters

  • Participate as counsel of record in numerous electric rate cases in Minnesota and North Dakota, providing assistance in the development of strategy, approach, prefiled testimony, discovery, hearing preparation, settlements, post-hearing briefing and appeals.
  • Obtained regulatory approval for $1 billion project to upgrade three major coal-fired power plants to reduce air emissions, including repowering two of the plants to natural gas and making major air-quality upgrades to the third.
  • Represented corporate employer in pension accounting regulatory proceeding.
  • Represented client in federal jurisdictional distribution wheeling and distribution interconnection agreements for large distribution interconnected facilities.
  • Represented client in management of ongoing renewable energy research and development program, including regulatory filings and over 100 transactions over the past 10 years.
  • Joint representation of clients seeking advance determination of prudence for four large transmission projects under North Dakota law.
  • Assist in the development of regulatory filings seeking an advance determination of prudence under North Dakota law for approximately 1,500 MW of generation, including wind and natural gas generation.
  • General representation in state-regulatory matters in Minnesota and North Dakota, including matters pertaining to development of service reliability incentive plan, affiliated interest filings, asset transfer approvals, general tariff compliance, prudence investigations, and the like.
  • Assisted in matter pertaining to renewable energy resource procurement issues in Michigan.
  • Litigated contested FPA 206 matters before FERC, relating to the development and ownership of transmission facilities under the MISO tariff and matters pertaining to allegations of discriminatory service under FERC tariffs.
  • Provide counsel on various FPA 205 regulatory filings before FERC.

Infrastructure Permitting

  • Assisting utility in obtaining permits to proceed with major construction of up to 500 MW of new natural gas fired generation in Minnesota.
  • Assisting utility in obtaining permits to proceed with major construction of 345 kV transmission facilities from south-central Minnesota to Iowa, including environmental review, Minnesota and Iowa permitting activities and associated real estate work.
  • Assisting utility client in obtaining Wisconsin permits to construct segments of major 345 kV transmission line from east-central Iowa to east-central Wisconsin.
  • Assisting multiple utility clients in obtaining Wisconsin permits to construct segments of major 345 kV transmission facilities in western Wisconsin to east-central Wisconsin.
  • Obtained site permit and route permit in 2013 for major upgrades to existing natural gas power plant in Minnesota.
  • Assisted client in 2012 in seeking regulatory permits in Colorado to acquire natural gas power plant.
  • Obtained Minnesota route permits under Minn. Stat. Ch. 216E in 2011 for 345 kV transmission line from the Twin Cities to La Crosse, Wisconsin. Obtained Wisconsin Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity permits for Wisconsin portion of the line.
  • Obtained route permits in 2010 under Minn. Stat. Ch. 216E in 2011 for 345 kV transmission line from the Twin Cities to St. Cloud, Minnesota.
  • Obtained necessary state permits for CapX2020 Initiative Group 1 Projects including: certificate of for 600 miles of 345 kV transmission lines throughout the State and connecting Minnesota to North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin; certificate of need and route permit for 230 kV transmission line from Bemidji to Grand Rapids Minnesota; and route permit for 345 kV transmission line from Brookings, South Dakota to the Twin Cities.
  • Obtained certificates of need and route permits for a series 115 kV transmission lines in the metropolitan Twin Cities area.
  • Obtained required regulatory permits for a series of 345 kV and 115 kV transmission lines in Southwestern Minnesota to support increasing generator outlet capacity in the wind-rich Buffalo Ridge area.
  • Obtained certificate of need and site permit for natural gas power plant in the suburban Twin Cities
  • Sought and obtained Minnesota permits for the development and construction of 345 kV Arrowhead transmission line from Duluth, Minnesota to eastern Wisconsin.

Regulated Industry Transactions

  • Assisted client in the acquisition of 500-mile major transmission line in North Dakota and Minnesota.
  • Transactional arrangements for the ownership and development of jointly-owned coal-fired power plants in North Dakota and Nebraska. 
  • Assisted client in the due diligence to take partial ownership stake in proposed coal-fired power plant in Illinois. 
  • Assisted in the acquisition of 250 MW coal-fired powerplant in Northern Minnesota.
  • Assisted in the financing of 450 MW coal-fired power plant in North Dakota.
  • Assisted in the purchase and sale of transmission and substation assets in Southern Minnesota between electric providers.
  • Provided assistance in the repowering of existing coal-fired power plants into combined-cycle natural gas generation.
  • Provide ongoing advice to procurement contracting for multiple clients relating to the supply, engineering and construction of energy infrastructure.
  • Developed form agreements for major infrastructure procurement programs.
  • Advised and assisted on pole attachments and right-of-way matters, including the development, negotiation and administration of Pole License Agreement, NESC compliance and administration of Right-of-Way Ordinance.
  • Assist in the development of partnership arrangements for the joint ownership of power plant and transmission assets.
  • Handled negotiation of vendor contracts for major power train equipment at multiple electric generation facilities.
  • Represented client regarding the design and construction projects using various project delivery systems including EPC, design, supply, furnish and install.
  • Assisted in the transition of wholesale customers to interconnection customers, including asset transfers and associated new interconnections, as well as regulatory proceeding establishing FERC jurisdictional pro-forma transmission-to-load tariffs and state regulatory approvals. Totaling over 70 different transactions in one year. 
  • Participated in complex PURPA related transactions to transition interconnection and rate treatment from state to federal jurisdiction. 
  • Wrote contract forms for purchase of demand side management services for New York-based utility.

Interconnection and Service Agreements

  • Represented utilities and developers in numerous federal jurisdictional interconnection agreements and related disputes.
  • Represented Midwestern utilities for numerous state jurisdictional distribution interconnection agreements.
  • Represented Midwestern utilities for numerous electric service agreements with customers including customers with large behind-the-meter generation and specific metering requirements.
  • Negotiated over 50 generator interconnection agreements, facilities construction agreements and related documents for multiple entities in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Colorado, Texas, New  Mexico pursuant to open access transmission tariffs.

Power Purchase Agreements

  • Negotiated long-term bilateral power purchase agreements for both utilities and developers.
  • Assisted in the development of form purchase agreements for multiple clients.
  • Negotiated power purchase agreements for over 5,000 MW of wind energy generation
  • Negotiated power purchase agreements for over 2,000 MW of natural gas energy generation
  • Negotiated power purchase agreements for over 1,500 MW of hydro-electric energy generation.
  • Negotiated power purchase agreements for over 1,000 MW of coal-fired generation in multiple states.
  • Negotiated power purchase agreements for about 200 MW of biomass electric generation.
  • Assisted in the development of master tariff form agreements.

Environmental and Real Property

  • Represented electric utility in annual property tax assessment process.
  • Counseled client on numerous matters related to adverse possession and assist in negotiating and drafting detailed settlement agreements.
  • Counseled client on specific statutory provisions relating to eminent domain, including “Buy the Farm” obligations under Minnesota law.
  • Counseled client on environmental permitting requirements, air permit emission restrictions, and air and water quality issues.
  • Advised multiple clients on the requirements of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requirements to obtain a Take Permit under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
  • Provided general legal assistance and counsel on various land rights and real estate matters that arise, including trespass, prescriptive rights, easements and lease negotiations.
  • Negotiated agreements for settlement of gas pipeline location in federal government right-of-way.
  • Advocacy to State Utilities Commission in rulemaking proceeding.
  • Assisted on appeals to Minnesota Court of Appeals and Minnesota Supreme Court regarding filed rate doctrine and primary jurisdiction.
  • Assisted on appeals to Minnesota Court of Appeals and Minnesota Supreme Court to protect energy company tariffs against a class action attacking tariffs on filed rate doctrine and primary jurisdiction grounds.