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Contact

915 L Street, Suite 1410
Sacramento, CA   95814
Tel: (916) 498-0121
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Sean M. Neal

Shareholder

Mr. Neal is a Shareholder with the Firm practicing in energy law with a focus on California.

Since Mr. Neal helped open the Firm’s Sacramento, California office in September 2004, he has advocated for clients’ interests before California state regulatory agencies and courts.  A key focus of Mr. Neal’s practice is the dynamically evolving nature of California’s green economy, including compliance with California’s Cap-and-Trade and Renewable Portfolio Standard regulations.  This focus brings Mr. Neal regularly before the California Public Utilities Commission, the California Air Resources Board and the California Energy Commission.  Mr. Neal has assisted clients to keep ahead in California’s changing energy environment, through the negotiation of transactional tools designed to foster development of renewables including open access tariffs, interconnection agreements and power purchase agreements.  He has advised community choice aggregators and municipal utilities on approaches to engaging in electricity markets and advancing deployment of leading-edge technologies, such as energy storage, hybrid resources, and distributed generation.

A hallmark of Mr. Neal’s practice is communication with the client, from staff to management to elected officials, relating the import of complex legal and technical issues in a manner which is understandable and upon which clients can act.  For example, Mr. Neal has provided workshops and appeared before public boards and management on such issues as developing a transactional platform for renewable generating resources within a utility’s service territory, regulatory requirements for wildfire mitigation, and the impacts of Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s bankruptcy.  He has appeared in numerous public meetings subject to the Brown Act.  Further, Mr. Neal regularly advises clients as to compliance with public records laws.   

Mr. Neal formally joined the Firm in its Washington, D.C. office in 1999, where he appeared frequently before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and where he continues to practice in this space.  Mr. Neal’s proximity to the California Independent System Operator Corporation’s (CAISO) headquarters allows the Firm to engage readily with CAISO representatives in person, whether to problem-solve matters important to clients, or to advocate on behalf of clients in the many stakeholder processes conducted by the CAISO.

Reliability, resiliency, and security of the electric grid have become a national and statewide concern.  Mr. Neal assists clients in complying with the mandatory reliability standards issued by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation and Western Electricity Coordinating Council and preparing for compliance audits, as well as negotiating resolutions to enforcement actions.  He has advocated on behalf of clients before FERC and the California Public Utilities Commission to draft common sense rules and requirements, including in the areas of cybersecurity and physical security of grid infrastructure.

Mr. Neal's litigation and arbitration experience includes proceedings before California State Courts, Federal Appellate and District Courts, FERC and the American Arbitration Association. Such proceedings include issues involving:

  • Successful dismissal in Federal District Court of a complaint challenging a local utility’s autonomy to establish net metering policy.
  • Successful appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit of a breach of contract by an interconnecting utility.
  • Resolution of claims from the Western Energy Crisis of 2000-01, litigated through FERC, Federal District Court, and California Superior Court.
  • Defense of claims against a utility alleging damage caused to an embedded generating facility.
  • Challenges litigated through hearing of several wholesale transmission rate proposals in order to seek just and reasonable rate levels and allocations.

Mr. Neal has advised clients on matters concerning hydroelectric generation, from amending operation agreements for hydroelectric facilities to conducting due diligence for hydroelectric companies in furtherance of financing. 

  • Stanford University, B.A. (Political Science and English), 1996
  • Georgetown University Law Center, J.D., 1999
  • California
  • Maryland
  • District of Columbia
  • United States Supreme Court
  • United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
  • United States Court of Claims
  • United States Court, Eastern District of California
  • United States Court, Northern District of California
  • Managing Editor, The Georgetown International Environmental Law Review, 1998-1999
  • Phi Beta Kappa, Stanford University
  • With Distinction Honors for B.A. Degree in Political Science and English, Stanford University
  • Energy Bar Association
  • American Bar Association
  • Sacramento County Bar Association
  • EUCI Seminar, FERC 101, FERC Compliance and Enforcement, FERC Enforcement Process and Audits (with Peter Scanlon, Lisa Gast, Lauren Perkins, and Clarence Hawkes), Sept. 9-10, 2020
  • APPA Legal & Regulatory Conference 2019, Critical Energy Infrastructure: Define It to Protect It, Oct. 22, 2019, Portland, OR
  • EUCI Seminar, FERC 101, FERC Compliance and Enforcement (with Peter Scanlon, Lisa Gast, Lee Ewing and Clarence Hawkes), Oct. 7-8, 2019, Herndon, VA 
  • APPA National Conference 2019, Industry Spotlight (with Jeff Genzer, Tom Rudebusch and Michael Postar), June 10, 2019, Austin, TX
  • American Public Power Association, Industry Spotlight Series, National Conference 2018, “What Federal/State Jurisdictional Issues Mean for your System” (with Jeff Genzer, Thomas Rudebusch, Michael Postar, Lisa Gast)
  • EUCI Conference, “FERC Compliance and Enforcement,” Electric Reliability 101, Current Threats and Emerging issues, and Transitioning to Risk-Based Monitoring & Enforcement by NERC, San Diego, CA, Jan. 31, 2017
  • DWG&P Presentation:  “Physical and Cyber Security Webinar:  Preparation for Overlapping Initiatives”, Dec. 8, 2014
  • FERC Administrative Litigation 101, Energy Bar Association’s Primer and Refresher Program, “The FERC Discovery Process,” Apr. 22, 2009
  • California State Proceeding Monitor
  • "Bringing Developing Nations on Board the Climate Change Protocol: Using Debt-for-Nature Swaps to Implement the Clean Development Mechanism," The Georgetown International Environmental Law Review (Vol. XI, Issue 1, Fall 1998)

Overview

Mr. Neal is a Shareholder with the Firm practicing in energy law with a focus on California.

Since Mr. Neal helped open the Firm’s Sacramento, California office in September 2004, he has advocated for clients’ interests before California state regulatory agencies and courts.  A key focus of Mr. Neal’s practice is the dynamically evolving nature of California’s green economy, including compliance with California’s Cap-and-Trade and Renewable Portfolio Standard regulations.  This focus brings Mr. Neal regularly before the California Public Utilities Commission, the California Air Resources Board and the California Energy Commission.  Mr. Neal has assisted clients to keep ahead in California’s changing energy environment, through the negotiation of transactional tools designed to foster development of renewables including open access tariffs, interconnection agreements and power purchase agreements.  He has advised community choice aggregators and municipal utilities on approaches to engaging in electricity markets and advancing deployment of leading-edge technologies, such as energy storage, hybrid resources, and distributed generation.

A hallmark of Mr. Neal’s practice is communication with the client, from staff to management to elected officials, relating the import of complex legal and technical issues in a manner which is understandable and upon which clients can act.  For example, Mr. Neal has provided workshops and appeared before public boards and management on such issues as developing a transactional platform for renewable generating resources within a utility’s service territory, regulatory requirements for wildfire mitigation, and the impacts of Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s bankruptcy.  He has appeared in numerous public meetings subject to the Brown Act.  Further, Mr. Neal regularly advises clients as to compliance with public records laws.   

Mr. Neal formally joined the Firm in its Washington, D.C. office in 1999, where he appeared frequently before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and where he continues to practice in this space.  Mr. Neal’s proximity to the California Independent System Operator Corporation’s (CAISO) headquarters allows the Firm to engage readily with CAISO representatives in person, whether to problem-solve matters important to clients, or to advocate on behalf of clients in the many stakeholder processes conducted by the CAISO.

Reliability, resiliency, and security of the electric grid have become a national and statewide concern.  Mr. Neal assists clients in complying with the mandatory reliability standards issued by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation and Western Electricity Coordinating Council and preparing for compliance audits, as well as negotiating resolutions to enforcement actions.  He has advocated on behalf of clients before FERC and the California Public Utilities Commission to draft common sense rules and requirements, including in the areas of cybersecurity and physical security of grid infrastructure.

Mr. Neal's litigation and arbitration experience includes proceedings before California State Courts, Federal Appellate and District Courts, FERC and the American Arbitration Association. Such proceedings include issues involving:

  • Successful dismissal in Federal District Court of a complaint challenging a local utility’s autonomy to establish net metering policy.
  • Successful appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit of a breach of contract by an interconnecting utility.
  • Resolution of claims from the Western Energy Crisis of 2000-01, litigated through FERC, Federal District Court, and California Superior Court.
  • Defense of claims against a utility alleging damage caused to an embedded generating facility.
  • Challenges litigated through hearing of several wholesale transmission rate proposals in order to seek just and reasonable rate levels and allocations.

Mr. Neal has advised clients on matters concerning hydroelectric generation, from amending operation agreements for hydroelectric facilities to conducting due diligence for hydroelectric companies in furtherance of financing. 

Education

  • Stanford University, B.A. (Political Science and English), 1996
  • Georgetown University Law Center, J.D., 1999

Bar Admissions

  • California
  • Maryland
  • District of Columbia
  • United States Supreme Court
  • United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
  • United States Court of Claims
  • United States Court, Eastern District of California
  • United States Court, Northern District of California

Honors

  • Managing Editor, The Georgetown International Environmental Law Review, 1998-1999
  • Phi Beta Kappa, Stanford University
  • With Distinction Honors for B.A. Degree in Political Science and English, Stanford University

Organizations

  • Energy Bar Association
  • American Bar Association
  • Sacramento County Bar Association

Presentations

  • EUCI Seminar, FERC 101, FERC Compliance and Enforcement, FERC Enforcement Process and Audits (with Peter Scanlon, Lisa Gast, Lauren Perkins, and Clarence Hawkes), Sept. 9-10, 2020
  • APPA Legal & Regulatory Conference 2019, Critical Energy Infrastructure: Define It to Protect It, Oct. 22, 2019, Portland, OR
  • EUCI Seminar, FERC 101, FERC Compliance and Enforcement (with Peter Scanlon, Lisa Gast, Lee Ewing and Clarence Hawkes), Oct. 7-8, 2019, Herndon, VA 
  • APPA National Conference 2019, Industry Spotlight (with Jeff Genzer, Tom Rudebusch and Michael Postar), June 10, 2019, Austin, TX
  • American Public Power Association, Industry Spotlight Series, National Conference 2018, “What Federal/State Jurisdictional Issues Mean for your System” (with Jeff Genzer, Thomas Rudebusch, Michael Postar, Lisa Gast)
  • EUCI Conference, “FERC Compliance and Enforcement,” Electric Reliability 101, Current Threats and Emerging issues, and Transitioning to Risk-Based Monitoring & Enforcement by NERC, San Diego, CA, Jan. 31, 2017
  • DWG&P Presentation:  “Physical and Cyber Security Webinar:  Preparation for Overlapping Initiatives”, Dec. 8, 2014
  • FERC Administrative Litigation 101, Energy Bar Association’s Primer and Refresher Program, “The FERC Discovery Process,” Apr. 22, 2009

Publications

  • California State Proceeding Monitor
  • "Bringing Developing Nations on Board the Climate Change Protocol: Using Debt-for-Nature Swaps to Implement the Clean Development Mechanism," The Georgetown International Environmental Law Review (Vol. XI, Issue 1, Fall 1998)