Energy, Utilities & Renewables

Tonkon Torp has one of the Pacific Northwest’s deepest energy and utility practices.

We have a long history of providing valuable counsel to traditional utilities on regulatory, finance, permitting, and ownership issues, and to developers and investors in the wind, solar, and other renewable energy sectors.

Our energy law attorneys handle real estate, title, permitting, regulatory, financing, and corporate matters on a wide range of energy projects across the country.

We keep up to date with the evolving energy policy landscape and help clients navigate the complex business environment at the intersection of energy law and public policy.

Our expertise extends to a broad range of energy and utility matters, including:

  • Generation, transmission, and distribution
  • Development, construction, and operations
  • Financing, taxation, and state and federal incentive programs
  • Regulatory compliance and administrative law
  • Real estate, title, land use, siting, and permitting
  • Environmental regulation
  • Litigation and appeals
  • Corporate governance, mergers, and acquisitions
  • Public policy and government relations
  • Transactional due diligence
  • Bond financing


Utilities come to Tonkon Torp because of our long-standing reputation for excellence providing legal services in both the regulated utility and independent power producer sectors. We represent utility clients before the public utilities commissions of Oregon and Washington, the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council, the Bonneville Power Administration, and state and federal courts.


Utility and energy clients turn to Tonkon Torp to handle their most difficult problems. Our attorneys have substantial expertise litigating energy-related matters, including representing clients in federal courts, state courts, arbitration, at trial, and on appeal. We have appeared before both state and federal regulators.

Our energy litigation experience includes:

  • Contract litigation
  • Utility, regulatory, and rate-making proceedings
  • Energy project construction disputes
  • Government investigations
  • Antitrust claims
  • Service territory disputes

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Albina Head Start Turns on First Solar-Powered Building with Assist from Tonkon Torp

When Albina Head Start learned it was awarded a Blue Sky Fund grant to install a rooftop solar array on one of its buildings, it turned to its long-time pro bono legal partner, Tonkon Torp. The nonprofit organization knew that it would need legal guidance to ensure that it could meet the terms laid out in the grant’s detailed and binding Memo of Understanding.

Ninth Circuit Victory Assures Electricity Rate Stability

Representing Portland General Electric (PGE), Tonkon Torp appellate lawyers successfully argued for the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to uphold a settlement by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). Find details and more featured cases here.

Tonkon Torp Obtains First-of-its-Kind Site Certificate for Oregon Wind Facility

After obtaining land rights for a 500 megawatt wind energy facility, Tonkon Torp helped Wheatridge file and process the first wind energy project presented to the Siting Council without a specific transmission corridor identified. Find details and more featured cases here.

Tonkon Torp Brings Attorney Power to Renewable Energy Transaction

Tonkon Torp client Enel Green Power North America (EGPNA) is the North American subsidiary of one of the largest corporations in the world, the Italian electricity company Enel S.p.A. Here’s how we helped EGPNA in a renewable energy acquisition.

Solar Project Sale Shines Light on Tonkon Team

Tonkon Torp represented our long-standing client, Obsidian Renewables, in sale of the Black Cap Solar II project to PSEG Solar Source, a New Jersey-based utility. Find details and more featured cases here.

Tonkon Torp Guides Unique Renewable Energy Project Through Key Phases

Tonkon Torp has worked on the project at key stages throughout its lifespan. Led by David Petersen, the firm first helped the original developer obtain land rights and evaluate title issues. In 2013, the developer and Tonkon Torp began a four-year process to secure the project’s site certificate from the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council.

Representative Matters


Tonkon Torp was lead counsel for a former executive officer and board member of Enron in dozens of federal and state court lawsuits in more than 20 states. We represented our client in civil lawsuit proceedings involving the Department of Labor and SEC, and a myriad of other proceeds obtaining favorable settlements to resolve all the proceedings before trial.

Renewable Project Finance

Assisted global renewable energy developer with due diligence to prepare three renewable projects for the capital markets in advance of pending expiration of applicable federal tax credits. 

Site Certificate for Oregon Wind Facility

Represented client to obtain a site certificate from the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council to construct a 500 MW wind energy facility in Morrow and Umatilla Counties. The project faced stiff opposition from Umatilla County, some local landowners and a local anti-wind coalition. The project presented unique issues related to energy transmission, as the available corridors to connect the project to the interstate transmission grid were constrained and presented considerable development challenges. After a five-year process, including a contested case before an administrative hearings officer that was resolved by a successful motion for summary judgment over the opposition of the Department of Energy, the Council issued a site certificate authorizing construction of the facility.

Public School Solar Rooftops

Represented public utility in the negotiation of license agreements for the installation of solar facilities on several Portland area school buildings. 

Eastern Oregon Wind Projects and Land Use Appeal

Aided developer in obtaining conditional use permit for a 104 megawatt wind energy facility in eastern Oregon, and successfully defended the permit on appeal. Assisted same developer in obtaining permit from Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council for 500MW wind project.

Eastern Oregon Wind Projects Acquisition

Represented private equity firm in $200 million acquisition and development of five utility-scale wind projects in Eastern Oregon for sale of power to prominent Idaho utility.


Represented Portland General Electric before the Oregon Public Utility Commission in proceedings concerning rate treatment of the company's unamortized investment in the Trojan Electric Power Plant.

Biofuels Development

Represented developer of three major biofuels refineries in the western United States.

Local Financing Counsel

Served as Oregon counsel for consortium of national lenders to complete due diligence for construction financing of utility-scale Eastern Oregon wind project.

National Solar Practice

Provided real estate and title counsel to national renewable energy developer for potential utility-scale solar energy projects in 12 states.

Real Estate Finance Opinion Practice

Provided legal opinions to national lender for loans secured by landowner payment stream under wind energy leases in Oregon and Washington.

Timberland Wind Leases

Assisted utility scale wind developers to negotiate leases for development of privately owned commercial timberlands in Washington and North Carolina.

Midway-Sunset Cogeneration Company v. Southern California Gas

Achieved judgment valued at more than $9 million for a breach of contract case involving a cogeneration facility.

PPM Energy, Inc. v. Black Hills Power, Inc.

Represented an energy marketing company in arbitration claims for breach of an energy exchange agreement. The client was awarded $1.7 million in damages and favorable declaratory relief. The award was reduced to judgment in District Court, Jefferson County, Colorado.

Eastern Washington Wind Projects

Provided real estate counsel to the developer in the development and sale of over 1,250 MW of wind energy on over 100 parcels in eastern Washington. The operating projects are now a part of the renewable energy portfolio of a major Washington utility.

Oregon Solar Highway

Counseled major Oregon utility on corporate, tax, finance and real estate issues surrounding three pioneering solar energy projects in the greater Portland area, including the first two installments of the Oregon Solar Highway, which seeks to use highway rights-of-way and rest stops for solar energy generation.

Oregon Solar Projects

Represented the developer in the development, construction and sale of 7.3 megawatts of solar energy projects in Eastern Oregon, including Oregon's largest operating solar facility, the 5 MW Outback project. 

World's Eighth-Largest Photovoltaic Solar Facility

Provided legal services in connection with the financing of EDF Renewable Energy's 143.2 MW Catalina Solar Project, which became operational in August 2013.  When it opened, the facility in Kern County, California was EDF's largest PV facility in the U.S. and the 8th largest PV facility in the world.

California Solar Development Purchase Options

Negotiated options to sell over 4,800 acres in California's Central Valley for a 700 megawatt potential solar energy project. If built, the projects will generate enough electricity for 300,000 homes.

Association of Public Agency Customers v. Bonneville Power Administration

Represented PGE in this dispute concerning BPA's 2012 Residential Exchange Program settlement. The program allows investor-owned utilities to obtain the benefit of low-cost BPA generated power for residential and small farm customer load. We intervened on the side of BPA to defend the settlement. It upheld on appeal, the settlement fixes exchange benefits for the next 18 years.

Columbia River People's Utility District v. PGE, 40 F Supp 2d 1152

Defeated PUD's claim that agreement concerning utility's exclusive service territory violated federal antitrust law.

Oregon Trail Electric Consumer Cooperative, Inc. v. Catalyst Energy, et al

Represented Oregon Trail Electric Consumer Cooperative, Inc. in a PURPA contract dispute.

PGE v. AMAX, Inc., 909 F2d 1577 (9th Cir)

This was one of several proceedings against AMAX concerning PGE's long-term coal supply agreement for the Boardman electric generating plant.

PGE v. Warm Springs Tribes, U.S. District Court

On behalf of Portland General Electric Company, we overturned a $225 million arbitration award regarding PGE's obligations to the Warm Springs Indians.

Puget Sound Energy, Inc., PacifiCorp and the City of Seattle v. Public Utility District No. 2 of Grant County, Washington, King County Superior Court Case No. 01-2-22126-4SEA

We intervened in this dispute concerning power sale contracts related to the Priests Rapid Hydroelectric Project on the Columbia River. We defeated the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction against Grant County PUD. Our efforts led to summary judgment in defendants' favor.

BPA v. WPPSS, 956 F2d 1497 (9th Cir)

Represented Portland General Electric Company in litigation concerning the allocation of costs among twinned nuclear power plants.

Dreyer v. Portland General Electric Company, 341 Or 262 (2006)

Obtained a writ of mandamus from the Oregon Supreme Court resulting in abatement of consolidated class actions related to the Trojan nuclear power plant.

Wholesale Electricity Antitrust Cases I and II and the People of the State of California v. Portland General Electric Company, et al

Defended a utility in a variety of litigation arising out of the California energy crisis.

Services + Industries

Services + Industries

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We encourage you to contact us if you have further questions about our firm or our experience. For your protection, we cannot represent you until we know that doing so will not create a conflict of interest. Accordingly, please do not send us any confidential or secret information about any matter that may involve you until you receive a written statement from us that we represent you (an engagement letter).

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