Energy and Regulatory Consulting
Law firms that are not experienced in regulatory challenges, or companies that need to overcome and navigate complex regulatory hurdles should keep a few key things in mind. For one, it is important to be proactive, and not reactive, when approaching these issues. It is better to tailor your approach in a custom way to prevent lawsuits or unfavorable motions, rather than react to those aforementioned setbacks. From her many years of regulating energy entities as a utility commissioner, Phyllis Reha provides an insider perspective on all regulatory matters.
A pending matter, or docket, before a regulatory body, is both a challenge and an opportunity. If approached with the right strategy, it can actually help your law firm or business reach their goals, and in the process build meaningful relationships that can help advance agendas into the future. Relationships matter -- and while dockets may be frustrating or even discouraging at times, with the right outlook and support you can feel comfortable, confident and create momentum for tomorrow and the next day. PAR Energy Solutions LLC offers an insider perspective into how dockets tie into broader regulatory challenges.
1. Generally, a Commission will open a docket on a subject matter or dispute
2. Stakeholders will have an opportunity to file comments once the docket is opened
3. The Commission will issue briefing papers to all parties involved
4. A public hearing will commence
5. Sometimes, public hearings will be accompanied with workshops, technical conferences, oral arguments, or referral to an administrative law judge or mediation
The electric industry is undergoing significant structural change -- including smart grid, demand response, distributed energy resources, solar, wind, other renewables, energy storage, and distribution -- there are a plethora of policy issues that are associated with these changes. Phyllis Reha, Principal of PAR Energy Solutions LLC, helps clients navigate their way to success through the complexities of the regulatory process.
When tackling a structural energy issue, it is advantageous to build consensus among diverse stakeholder groups. If possible, it is good to reframe regulatory matters in a way that is most palatable to all parties involved. These stakeholders will typically include environmental, consumer, large industrial, low income, and utilities. It is a best practice to explore and cultivate synergies among these groups in order to move and advance common goals.
- Traditional — Networking with key stakeholder groups
- Engaging — Participating in technical workshops and work groups on relevant issues
- Synergy — Starting with the common ground that unites the various interests at hand
Phyllis Reha has seen through ideas from conception to implementation, and as a regulator and consultant, has been both an observer and participant in key coalition building efforts. Ms. Reha also understands the administrative process, having served as an Administrative Law Judge and Mediator on a multitude of energy and regulatory matters. PAR Energy Solutions LLC can be a part of your team in building an efficient yet powerful advocacy plan that unites diverse interests.
Consistency and trust are the foundations of a positive relationship. Meeting with a stakeholder only once, when so much rests on the outcome of a regulatory decision, is an oxymoron. It would have been better had the client not met with them or presented to them at all, because it shows the regulator how little you care about the issue or outcome. Building relationships is key, and in doing so, is an opportunity to educate decision makers on the issues at hand, and also learn more about how to tackle these issues and present them in a persuasive manner. If not handled well, this can hinder success.
Look at the whole chessboard:
- Focus on working with state, regional and national interests
- Use the appropriate tone and mention examples that resonate with regulators
- If a regulator is unsatisfied, use the opportunity for reply comments and negotiation
PAR Energy Solutions LLC helps put the input in the appropriate context, and offers insights and perspective to connect non-apparent facets so our clients stay on the right path and accomplish their agendas. A client's relationship with the regulator is an ongoing process. Managing these relationships takes strategy and long-term thinking, as well as persistent internal and external advice.