The energy sector is arguably the most important sector of our economy and the most critical of our infrastructures. Implicating security, safety, and environmental concerns, as well as “pocketbook” issues, it garners regular and robust government scrutiny.
There are multiple “cops on the beat’: FERC, CFTC, DOJ, trading platform disciplinary programs and state regulators. The stakes are high with million dollar per day, per violation penalties on the line as well as trading bans and possibly criminal charges. The inquiries and investigations move quickly. Subjects don’t have time for their lawyers to “get up to speed” on the very specialized trading activities and regulator approaches. They need lawyers who do this work every day. That is McGuireWoods’ energy enforcement practice. We understand the industry, the trading, the products, and the platforms. We know how to look at complex data sets that tell the real story of our client’s conduct. Many law firms will tell you they can do energy enforcement, but we are one of a hand full of firms that do it every day.
About Our Team
The Energy Enforcement team at McGuireWoods is rooted in an elite Government Investigations and White Collar Litigation Department that was recognized as a Law360 Practice Group of the Year. We also leverage the capabilities of our broader firm-wide Energy team, including more than 100 interdisciplinary lawyers, who have been serving a broad spectrum of energy clients for nearly 50 years. We also represent about 30% of the nation’s utilities. We represent many of the top commodity trading houses and financial institutions. The firm has earned nationwide ranking for its energy regulatory and litigation work in Chambers USA’s guide.
The team includes a former top enforcement official at FERC who led some of the most high profile cases that agency brought in recent years as well as multiple partners and associates with direct experience in energy enforcement at the agencies and in the courts. The team is also diverse – including several women and lawyers of color who are actually experienced in energy enforcement. The expertise of our team was recognized when we were recently called upon by the Edison Electric Institute to completely redesign its on-line member training on Anti-Market Manipulation Rules. We literally “wrote the book” in the form of our unique, FERC Enforcement Reporter.
How We Help
Our attorneys are experienced in assisting numerous clients with investigation responses, as well as less formal audits and inquiries plus everyday internal compliance. McGuireWoods is well-positioned to assist clients with the following:
- Direct FERC and CFTC Enforcement Defense
- Electric Reliability Matters
- External Audit Response
- Internal Investigations
- Prosecution or Defense of Complaints at FERC
- Related Litigation
- General Energy Compliance Program Design & Counseling
- Electric Reliability Compliance Counseling
- Self-Report Evaluation & Execution
- No Action Letter & Other Guidance Requests
- Informal Complaints to FERC Staff
Download a PDF copy of our team brochure.
FERC Enforcement Reporter
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- We have represented clients in more than twenty different FERC or CFTC non-public investigations in the last five years, most of which closed with no action or settled favorably.
- We have privately counseled more than a dozen clients on major compliance issues that did not result in enforcement.
Some of the public matters we have handled include:
- Representation of Dan Brin and Scott Connelly, two energy traders formerly with Barclays, in a FERC investigation of manipulation of Western US energy markets. They were accused of scheming to trade day-ahead fixed-price electricity to boost their financial swap positions. The case settled – without our clients paying any penalty, incurring any trading restrictions or making any admissions – after a California federal judge refused to confirm the $453 million FERC penalty. The case was one of first impression on many fronts and was widely watched. It was named by Law360 as one of the “4 biggest energy cases of 2015.”
- Representation of City Power Marketing in FERC enforcement litigation in federal district court alleging manipulation of the PJM markets. The case settled with no admission of liability and a substantially reduced penalty and a payment plan that took into account the financial circumstances of the company. This case mattered to the industry because it was one of several cases testing the limits of what FERC views as market manipulation and it tested the unique procedural step of seeking “de novo review” of the Commission’s determination in federal court.
- Representation of PSEG Energy Resources & Trade LLC in the resolution of what could have been a $100 million-plus enforcement matter relating to PSEG’s electricity offers into the mid-Atlantic-based PJM energy market. The settlement resolved all issues for PSEG, with no admission of violations, for a total payment of $39.4 million.
- Representation of Dynasty Power and its owner Allan Cho in a FERC investigation involving alleged violations of FERC’s anti-manipulation rule.
- Representation of utility clients in two of the three FERC reliability Inquiries that have followed major grid events.
- Representation of energy trader Michael Whalen in connection with a FERC Investigation involving Vista Energy Marketing.