“The City of Boulder has chosen the Washington, DC, law firm of Duncan & Allen to advise and represent the city during anticipated proceedings in front of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The attorneys will join the team of staff lawyers and other outside counsel tasked with determining the costs associated with the possible creation of a municipal electric utility.
Duncan & Allen’s attorneys specialize in federal energy regulation. They have assisted with four successful municipalization efforts in the U.S. and are familiar with the required steps from the beginning of the process through flipping the switch on a new electric utility.
Boulder voters in November approved a new, fixed-term tax and Charter amendments to facilitate the exploration of the possibility of acquiring Xcel’s electric distribution system and creating a city-owned utility. City Council has said it will not make a decision about whether to move forward with this approach until the costs are known. This process is expected to take three to five years.
The city interviewed five finalist law firms on Feb. 2 and Feb. 3. City Manager Jane Brautigam, City Attorney Tom Carr and the other seven members of the final selection committee were impressed by the caliber of all of the candidates, but Duncan & Allen stood out because of the firm’s technical and legal experience in this very specialized and evolving area of law.
“Duncan & Allen’s attorneys have succeeded in four municipalization cases. They demonstrated a level of confidence about what needs to be done and were able to show that they have performed this work, in a very real and positive way, in recent years,” Carr said. “We liked their ‘can-do’ attitude and believe they are in a unique position to help the city achieve its goals.”
Duncan & Allen partner John Coyle said that the firm’s attorneys have been “deeply impressed by Boulder’s preparation, organization and thoroughness in exploring the formation and operation of a municipal electric utility to implement the community’s broader energy policy goals.”
“We are excited about working with the city and the Boulder community to create the municipal electric utility of the future,” Coyle said.
With the selection of FERC counsel, the city team will begin charting out a timeline and strategies for legal and engineering work, including the creation of an inventory of existing equipment and evaluating the electrical system to determine the potential cost to the city.
The city will be limiting the release of information about specific legal strategy, so as not to harm the city’s position in negotiations or during court and regulatory proceedings. But updates about outcomes and significant developments will be posted at http://www.boulderenergyfuture.com. Interested members of the community are also encouraged to sign up for e-mail updates about these efforts and other Energy Future and climate work that will be occurring this year. A link to register for these is available on the same website.
Additional information about Duncan & Allen:
Duncan & Allen is a Washington, D.C. based law firm with a highly regarded Federal Energy Regulatory Commission practice. Since its founding in 1970, the firm has specialized in representing and responding to the needs of municipally owned and cooperatively owned electric utilities, regulatory agencies and public entities. Duncan & Allen has counseled numerous clients on the legal feasibility of municipal electric utility formation. It has guided the establishment of fully operational municipal electric utilities in Electrical District No. 3 – Pinal County (Arizona), Kanab City (Utah), Clyde (Ohio) and Elbow Lake (Minnesota) from the preliminary feasibility study stage all the way through the date when the municipal utilities began operation of their new systems, and beyond.
Duncan & Allen regularly advises its clients on power supply planning and acquisition, transmission planning and access, wholesale power and transmission rate issues, competitive market structuring and mitigation of excessive market concentration, avoiding or minimizing stranded cost liability, and compliance with mandatory reliability standards and other regulatory requirements. The firm’s practice is centered on the Supreme Court’s observation, over 60 years ago, that the “major purpose of the whole [Federal Power] Act is to protect consumers against excessive prices.”
Each of the Duncan & Allen partners on its Municipalization Team is rated AV® PreeminentTM in the Martindale-Hubble Law Directory, the highest peer rating available to any individual lawyer. The firm’s publications include the Checklist For A Study To Determine The Feasibility of Establishing A Municipal Utility, which the American Public Power Association features in the package of materials it provides to municipalities that are considering establishing municipal electric systems, and What Public Power Utilities Must Know To Survive Under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, as well as contributions to legal survey materials on the energy industry published by the American Bar Association and others”