Stephen H. Watts II Counsel

Stephen has over 40 years of experience helping electric power and natural gas clients meet their business objectives by successfully navigating the maze of energy regulation they face at the federal and state levels. Stephen represents clients on a wide range of public utility and energy issues, including federal and state regulation of the rates, service and facilities of electrical and natural gas utilities and non-utility generation (NUG) projects.

Before joining McGuireWoods in 1981, he was vice president and general counsel of an intrastate natural gas transmission and distribution company. He has practiced energy regulatory law at the federal and state level since 1975, and has been listed in Woodward/White, Inc.'s The Best Lawyers in America since 1993.

His practice focuses on electric transmission line siting and on multi-state energy regulatory aspects of energy transactions and projects, including mergers and acquisitions and the development, financing, construction and operation of energy facilities.

Stephen has practiced before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (and its predecessor, the Federal Power Commission), State Corporation Commission of Virginia, North Carolina Utilities Commission, Public Service Commission of West Virginia, Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control, Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, Michigan Public Service Commission, Wisconsin Public Service Commission and Kentucky State Board on Electric Generation and Transmission Siting.

Stephen also has spoken on energy regulatory issues at seminars and conferences sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, American Gas Association, Electric Power Research Institute, NARUC's Natural Conference of Regulatory Attorneys, Eastern Mineral Law Foundation, National Regulatory Conference, McGraw-Hill's Independent Power Report and Electrical World, Infocast, Center for Business Intelligence, Institute for International Research, EXNET, SNL Energy, Public Utilities Fortnightly, Urban Land Institute and the University of Richmond School of Law. He was also author of the chapter on "Distributor Gas Supply" in Matthew Bender's treatise Regulation of the Gas Industry and has lectured at the University of Virginia Law School and University of Richmond School of Law on federal energy regulation under the Natural Gas Act and Federal Power Act.


Lead outside counsel for major electric utility applicant in more than 20 successful electric transmission line siting proceedings, and co-lead in eight more, at voltages of 500 kV, 230 kV, 138 kV and 115 kV, including multistate 500 kV lines and successful defense of transmission line siting approvals in three state supreme court decisions.

Lead outside counsel for major electric utility applicant in obtaining state PSC approval to construct $1.2 billion, 1,300 MW combined cycle electric generation facility, currently under construction.

Lead outside counsel for major electric utility applicant in four rate adjustment clause proceedings resulting in recovery of $922 million of electric transmission costs.

Lead outside regulatory counsel for acquiring company in acquisitions of 3,015 MW of coal and gas-fired electric generating assets and 2,600 MW of nuclear generation assets; for developer/owner in financings to construct 1,350 MW of gas-fired generation assets; and for lenders in financings to acquire 1,855 MW of gas and oil-fired generation assets and 655 MW of hydroelectric generation assets and to recapitalize 2,300 MW of coal-fired generation assets.

Lead outside regulatory counsel for acquiring company in $6.5 billion electric and gas convergence merger affecting 4 million retail customers.

  • University of Virginia School of Law, JD, 1972
  • Washington and Lee University, BA, 1968

Member, Energy Bar Association

Member, American Bar Association

Member, Virginia State Bar

Member, Virginia Bar Association

Junior Warden, St. James’s Episcopal Church, Richmond, Virginia 2010-2012 

  • Co-presenter, "District Energy Systems: An Analysis of Virginia Law," Urban Land Institute, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and Northern Virginia Regional Commission, December 14, 2011
  • Panelist, "Settlement Strategies," SNL Energy’s Energy Rate Case Conference, September 11, 2009
  • Virginia
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia
  • U.S. Supreme Court

Named State Regulatory Practitioner of the Year, Energy Bar Association, 2015

Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America, Energy Law, Woodward/White, Inc., 1993-2019

Named to "Virginia Super Lawyers," Utilities, Energy & Natural Resources, Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters, 2006-2010

  • Co-author, "District Energy Systems", Northern Virginia Regional Commission Reports, August 2011
  • Author, "The Future of Energy", Executive Counsel Magazine, November 11, 2008
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