Case Studies

Making Hydroelectric History in Maine

In December 2012, Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners decided to purchase an attractive portfolio of hydroelectric assets in Maine and New Hampshire. This would be one of the largest acquisitions in Maine in the prior 20 years, with an enterprise value of approximately $760 million—and they had four months to do it. Brookfield turned to Preti Flaherty’s Energy Group to lead the way.

A supercharged acquisition

A deal this large included several regulatory, municipal, and federal approvals to meet in a short amount of time. In addition, the hydroelectric facilities were located on multiple rivers, including two that were designated critical salmon habitat by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Brookfield needed our help to ensure compliance.

More power to them

Our team of attorneys rolled up their sleeves, working across several groups to get the job done right. The Environmental Practice team reviewed Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license provisions and addressed any environmental issues. Our Real Estate team negotiated all aspects of title work, including areas of recreational use for the public. As a result, Brookfield now operates one of the largest publicly-traded, renewable power platforms globally.

Cleaning Up Responsibly

Environmental cleanup of a contaminated site poses many serious challenges. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection ordered a company to conduct a $350 million remediation of a former chlor-alkali facility. This meant difficult and potentially dangerous evacuation of closed and capped sludge landfills and the transport of enormous quantities of mercury-contaminated soil over hundreds of miles. Looking for a better solution, the company turned to Preti Flaherty’s Environmental Law Group.

Turning a mountain into a mole hill

Preti Flaherty appealed the widely publicized DEP decision to the state’s citizen Board of Environmental Protection.

Given the history of the site and the scope and scale of the proposed remedy, we knew there would be significant public attention focused on the proceeding. Working closely with our client and their public relations team, we integrated a full-scale community relations effort into our litigation plan to ensure that the local community understood and supported the remedial alternative being proposed by our client in the BEP proceeding. The aim was to alleviate concern by maintaining an open line of communication with the public. Our team regularly kept town officials and opinion leaders fully informed about the process and the plan being developed before the BEP.

A win for everyone

The approach succeeded. The BEP's decision, issued after nine days of hearings involving more than 25 witnesses, significantly altered the original DEP plan, reducing the cost by more than $100 million. By aligning our litigation strategy and client’s interests with the town’s interests, and leveraging local support, we transformed a major disadvantage before the BEP into one of our greatest assets.