Energy Bar Association Names McGuireWoods Partner Stephen Watts State Regulatory Practitioner of the Year

November 18, 2015
Steven Watts EBA award

McGuireWoods partner Stephen Watts receives EBA award in Washington, D.C.

The Energy Bar Association has named McGuireWoods partner Stephen H. Watts II as its State Regulatory Practitioner of the Year, an honor recognizing Watts’ accomplishments during a four-decade career practicing law in the area of public utility regulation.

The award recognizes innovation and superior advocacy by members of the state utility regulatory bar. Watts received the honor at the association’s mid-year meeting Nov. 18 in Washington, D.C. The Energy Bar Association is an international, non-profit association of attorneys, non-attorney professionals and students active in all areas of energy law.

Watts represents clients on a wide range of public utility and energy regulatory issues, including federal and state regulation of electrical and natural gas utilities and non-utility generation projects. Much of his practice has focused on multistate regulatory aspects of energy transactions and projects, including mergers and acquisitions and the development, financing, construction and operation of energy facilities such as natural gas pipelines and electric generation facilities and transmission lines.

Watts has served as lead outside counsel for major electric utility clients in more than 20 successful transmission line siting proceedings and he has successfully defended siting approvals in four state Supreme Court cases, including a 2009 decision which upheld Virginia’s approval of a 500-kilovolt, multistate transmission line running from Virginia to Pennsylvania.

“We are tremendously proud of Stephen and thrilled that he has received this well-deserved honor from his peers,” said Joseph K. Reid III, chair of McGuireWoods’ Regulatory and Compliance Department. “Stephen is a leader who has set the standard for excellence and professionalism, and his mentorship has been vital to the development of a deep and talented team of regulatory lawyers here at McGuireWoods.”

Watts has practiced before the Federal Power Commission, Federal Energy Administration, and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, as well as state regulatory commissions in Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia, Connecticut, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and Kentucky. Before joining McGuireWoods in 1981, he was vice president and general counsel for Commonwealth Gas Pipeline Corporation and Commonwealth Gas Services, Inc., intrastate natural gas transmission and distribution companies.

“The Energy Bar Association has done so much to advance the practice of energy law, and I’m honored and humbled to receive this recognition, which was entirely unexpected,” Watts said. “I’m also grateful to McGuireWoods for its unwavering support through the years, and proud to be associated with the firm’s outstanding team of federal and state energy regulatory lawyers.”

During his distinguished career, Watts has served as president of the Southern Chapter of the Energy Bar Association, vice chair of the Energy Bar Association’s Independent Power Production Committee, and chair of the board of governors of the Virginia State Bar’s Administrative Law Section. In addition, he has lectured at the University of Virginia School of Law School and University of Richmond School of Law on federal energy regulation under the Natural Gas Act and Federal Power Act.

McGuireWoods’ energy regulatory lawyers play integral roles in the strategic development of rate-case and energy facility applications and litigation. The firm earned a nationwide practice ranking for its energy regulatory and litigation work from Chambers USA in its 2015 guide.