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Utilities

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Industry-Focused Counseling

McNair represents some of South Carolina’s biggest electric power and water treatment utilities, including both investor-owned and government-owned companies. We assist them with regulatory and operating concerns, and help them place billions of dollars in infrastructure financing.

Electric Power Utilities

Because we represent electric utilities owned by both investors and government entities, McNair understands the range of issues that confront both types of organizations. That includes traditional regulatory matters such as ratemaking, facility siting and general regulation, as well as representation in state regulatory forums.

Our lawyers helped create a joint action agency in which ten municipalities own a stake in a nuclear generating plant, and provide the agency with ongoing guidance on governance and on billions of dollars in new financing. We also have served either as bond counsel or underwriters’ counsel in more than $3 billion in revenue obligations of an electric utility owned by the state of South Carolina.

In addition to advising utility companies, we also represent cogenerators and independent power producers in power supply siting and contracting concerns, and regularly resolve disputes that involve power and fuel supply contracts and territorial issues.

Example of our Services
In a firmwide effort, McNair created a joint action agency formed by 10 municipalities in the northwest section of South Carolina to provide wholesale electric service to its members primarily through 25% ownership of a nuclear power plant. To create the agency, we had to draft and lobby successfully for a new state law, then twice successfully defend the law before the South Carolina Supreme Court.

We then served as counsel on the agency's initial $730 million public finance issue that was the largest in state history to that time. Since then, as outside general counsel, we have continued to assist the agency with several billion dollars in public financings. We also helped structure the utility’s interconnection, fuel and power sharing agreements, and assist with ongoing proportional governance among the municipalities under a “modified Mississippi plan.”

We help electric utility clients work with state regulators and with the legislative process to operate efficiently and effectively in today’s complex mix of market economics and public policy. Our lawyers are well versed in helping utilities in traditional regulatory concerns such as ratemaking proceedings, facility siting and administrative litigation.

More importantly, if you are a regulated utility company and want to undertake an innovative competitive venture that will gain the approval of regulatory authorities, McNair’s experience can be invaluable for project completion. We understand how state government works at the highest agency and legislative levels.

Example of our Services
Working on behalf of a Fortune 500 energy-based holding company that serves customers in South and North Carolina and Georgia, McNair helped secure utility legislation from the South Carolina legislature in 2007. Called the Base Load Review Act, this law is intended to allow a utility to recover prudently incurred capital and operating costs associated with new nuclear or coal-fired base load electric generating facilities larger than 350 megawatts.

From our utility client’s perspective, the new law provides for up-front recovery of costs associated with building a new power plant, so long as the facility stays within its approved budget – a tremendous incentive for new plant construction.

Water and Wastewater Utilities

McNair has represented a variety of South Carolina public utilities that provide water and wastewater services. That includes more than 30 years of service as outside general counsel for the largest water utility (more than 400,000 customers) in the tri-county Charleston area. As general counsel, we advise utility management on everything from drafting regulations, to infrastructure bond issue funding (including new issues valued at nearly $1 billion), to rate analysis and contests, to property purchases for construction of new water treatment facilities.

For infrastructure construction we regularly advise our water management utilities on wetlands permitting, including work to secure coastal zone consistency certification and to demonstrate compliance with the policies and procedures of the Coastal Zone Management Program.