Noel co-leads the utility practice of the energy industry team. He represents electric utilities and other energy companies before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and appellate courts, and also advises on cross-jurisdictional matters involving other regulatory bodies. Noel’s clients include traditional electric and gas utilities, vertically disaggregated utilities, developers and operators of “merchant” transmission and other forms of nontraditional transmission, merchant generation developers and operators, financial institutions, power marketers, and owners of renewable resources and qualifying facilities.
RTO Tariff and Market Design
Noel has extensive experience with Regional Transmission Organization (RTO) tariff and market design, implementation and compliance issues in MISO, SPP and PJM. He is well-versed in the economic and regulatory underpinnings of market design and market operations, the legal and positional dynamics of stakeholder interactions, and the rights and responsibilities of actual or prospective transmission owners, generation owners, aggregators, holders of congestion rights, and load.
Noel has been involved in significant proceedings related to:
- design of markets for energy, capacity and ancillary services, including the roles of intermittent resources, planned resources, external resources demand response and energy efficiency in such markets;
- transmission planning and cost allocation, including interregional planning and cost allocation;
- joining and withdrawing from RTOs (and helping clients assess pros and cons of such moves);
- issues involving out-of-market payments and uplift, including must-run generation;
- waivers of market rules and complaints intended to repair or compensate for gaps in market rules;
- interactions of RTOs with neighbors and intersections of the jurisdiction and powers of FERC, the states, market monitors and others; and
- appellate work stemming from RTO tariff and market design issues.
Noel frequently counsels clients on interpretation of, and compliance with RTO tariffs and market rules, and acts to advocate rule interpretations in informal communications with RTO personnel. He also works closely with RTO personnel on litigation and other matters where interests are aligned.
Transactional Scoping and Approvals
Noel counsels clients in all phases of transactions. He is frequently called upon during the initial assessment of a potential M&A transaction to help clients scope out federal and state regulatory approvals, potential market power and affiliate complications; then to obtain FERC approval if the deal goes forward. He has obtained unconditional approval for dozens of stock and asset transactions, large and small. He advises on regulatory aspects of transactions involving power sales, transmission service and interconnection service, and obtains associated rate authorizations. Noel frequently helps utilities navigate FERC's requirements for affiliate transactions, and has advised clients on rate and other issues that pertain to construction of new transmission and interconnection facilities, and inside and outside of RTOs, including nontraditional transmission investment.
Noel assists clients with a variety of rate matters under Section 205 of the Federal Power Act. He has substantial familiarity with market-based rates (including market power analyses), generation interconnection, transmission cost allocation, and rate and associated issues that pertain to owners and operators of nontraditional transmission, including FERC, state and RTO rules for non-incumbent transmission ownership. His rate work is part of the comprehensive capability of McGuireWoods’ FERC team to provide clients with the support they need in all phases of a rate case, from conception and design to the preparation of a filing, and including, as needed, supporting testimony and exhibits, and participation in settlement and hearing procedures.
Noel also works closely with clients’ state regulatory teams to assure consistency between federal and state approaches, including preparation of state testimony and applications and responses to discovery.
Compliance and Enforcement
Noel counsels clients on all aspects of compliance program design and implementation. He also is frequently called upon to help clients investigate potential compliance violations, and he advises them on how to address actual violations, including remediation, and whether self-reporting to FERC or the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) is in their interest. He advises clients on FERC and NERC audits and investigations, including confidential investigations into complex questions regarding compliance with market rules. Noel also provides on-site training on compliance topics.
Noel co-founded the National Energy Compliance Forum (NECF), an organization devoted to sharing best practices for FERC compliance, and served on the NECF Steering Committee from 2009-2012. In 2008, he conceived and helped lead a unique effort that brought together 27 utilities to produce a guide to constructing a model FERC compliance program. In 2005, he spearheaded a law firm effort to produce a groundbreaking FERC "compliance handbook." In 2015, he co-led the development of McGuireWoods’ FERC Enforcement Reporter, an innovative, web-based legal research tool that organizes information about FERC enforcement cases and policy statements topically.
Policy Advice and Rulemakings
Noel counsels clients on policy matters that arise before FERC and assists in the preparation of comments in rulemakings. For example, he represented the Edison Electric Institute in rulemakings on the FERC standards of conduct in both the Order No. 2004 and Order No. 717 rulemaking sequences.
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