11 of the Most Influential Lawyers in North American Wind
Our second Legal Power List is the ultimate guide to the wind industry’s biggest legal names, featuring lawyers from around the globe – mainly Europe and North America. In this blog, we’ve taken a special look at the North American lawyers that are having the greatest impact on wind.
A lot has changed since we published our first Legal Power List in 2016. For one thing, we’ve increased our focus on North American wind – including our first ever New York conference in May 2018, which coincided with the publication of our North American Power List.
So, when it came to researching this year’s Legal Power List, we were especially aware of new names in the North American legal sector.
This means that, out of 100 lawyers featured in our list, one-third are based in North America. We’ve canvassed views from across the industry, as well as undertaking our own research, to assess which lawyers are the best in the business.
It’s been a challenging couple of years for the industry, which is why we’re glad to acknowledge the role which lawyers play in helping investors and utilities navigate political hurdles both at home and overseas.
If you’d like to read the report in full, it’s exclusively available for members – or to purchase for non-members – here. As a taster, here’s our run-down of eleven of North American wind’s most influential lawyers:
Alyson Clark, General Counsel, GE Renewable Energy
Alyson held a number of positions at General Electric before settling into her current role as general counsel for GE Renewable Energy in 2015. Her previous roles include legal general manager for the planning of the Alstrom integration in 2015; and acting as general counsel to GE Power Conversion. GE Renewable Energy has recently exceeded 40GW of installed onshore wind capacity in North America, with over 25,000 turbines running. The company also supplied 6MW Haliade offshore turbines for the 30MW Block Island.
Charles Sieving, EVP and General Counsel, NextEra Energy
NextEra Energy is the largest owner of wind farms in the US, with total capacity of 13.9GW. In this capacity, Charles heads all legal affairs at the company as well as its environmental services and corporate compliance groups. Sieving has served as EVP and general counsel since joining NextEra in December 2008.
Clyde E. Rankin III, Partner, Baker & McKenzie
Based in New York, Clyde ‘Skip’ Rankin is a member of Baker McKenzie’s banking, finance and major projects group in North America; and chair of the firm’s global renewables and clean technology practice. He joined the practice in 2008 after 28 years at Coudert Brothers, and remains one of North America’s most experienced wind lawyers. His recent transactions span project finance, tax equity and corporate power purchase agreements; and he also gets involved with US clients on investments in eastern and central Europe, and Russia.
Daniel Elkort, EVP, Chief Legal Officer & General Counsel, Pattern Energy
Daniel co-founded Pattern Energy in 2009, and has a total of 20 years’ experience in the renewable energy industry. As executive vice president and chief legal officer, Elkort is responsible for managing all aspects of the company’s in-house legal team and co-manages the project finance team. This means he played a key role as Pattern bought an ownership stake in its associated company, Pattern Development 2.0, in 2017; and has helped to lead the company into new markets, including Japan, where it completed its first wind farm in March: the 33MW Ohorayama Wind facility.
Ed Zaelke, Partner, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld
Ed has 30 years of experience in the US wind sector, where he is a former president of the American Wind Energy Association; and a founding board member of the American Wind Energy Foundation. His most significant deals in the last two years include advising Northleaf Capital Partners on the acquisition of a majority stake in a 217MW mostly-wind portfolio in Texas from Apex Clean Energy. The projects in this portfolio are significant as they are supplying the US Army’s Fort Hood garrison in Texas in the army’s largest wind power deal to date.
James Tynion III, Partner, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius
James has been at Morgan Lewis for four years since joining from Foley & Lardner, and specialises in the energy and infrastructure industries. He represents firms in project financing, greenfield development, mergers and acquisitions, and equipment leasing and finance deals. With more than 25 years’ experience in the wind sector, Tynion is a pioneer in the evolving wind and solar tax equity, finance and acquisitions markets.
Keith Martin, Partner and Co-Head of Projects, Norton Rose Fulbright
Keith is one of the world’s top project finance lawyers and spent 34 years at US law firm Chadbourne & Parke until it combined forces with Norton Rose Fulbright in June 2017. Martin is now co-head of projects for Norton Rose Fulbright, specialising in tax and project finance, and he acted for over 140 companies in the US and five other countries last year. As well as his transactional activity, Martin has published numerous articles on renewable energy and finance law and is editor of the Project Finance Newswire.
Michael Blazer, SVP & Chief Legal Officer, Invenergy
Michael Blazer is senior vice president and chief legal officer at Invenergy. In this capacity he oversees all corporate legal affairs in the company’s operations in the US and Europe. Blazer has 34 years’ experience in law, and has received more attention this year than previously as Invenergy has launched a $700m damages claim against the Polish government over the country’s treatment of wind investors. Blazer joined Invenergy in 2016 after seven years as outside counsel where he represented Invenergy on multiple energy development projects.
Michael Shadbolt, Vice President & General Counsel, Northland Power
As general counsel at Canadian developer Northland Power, Michael Shadbolt is responsible for providing legal advice and guidance on all aspects of the business and its activities. His arrival at Northland in 2011 coincided with the firm’s move into European offshore wind via its 600MW Gemini, 332MW Nordsee One and 252 Deutsche Bucht schemes. The firm is now among the pioneers in the emerging Taiwanese market, where it won support for the 300MW Hai Long 2 scheme in April.
Natalie Hocken, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Berkshire Hathaway Energy
Natalie has been in this role for three years, overseeing activities at subsidiaries including MidAmerican Energy, NV Energy and PacifiCorp. Before this, she served in various SVP roles including transmission and systems operations at PacifiCorp. Hocken joined PacifiCorp in 2002 after working for law firms Heller Ehrman and LeBouf Lamb Greene & MacRae. Berkshire Hathaway Energy is the largest US utility owner of wind farms.
Scott Wilensky, EVP and General Counsel, Xcel Energy
Scott has more than 25 years’ experience in utility regulation. Xcel is one of the largest wind-using utilities in the US, with a portfolio of 6.7GW – most of which is procured through power purchase agreements – of which it owns 850MW. The company is now looking to expand its portfolio by 3.7GW of wind capacity by 2021, of which it plans to build 2.7 GW and procure a further 1GW through PPAs. Wilensky’s work will be important as the firm negotiates this growth.