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About Cathy

Catherine McCarthy has represented asset owners and others on energy regulation and policy matters for more than two decades. She chairs Bracewell's Energy Regulatory Department and is the current Chair Elect of the American Bar Association's Infrastructure and Regulated Industries Section.  Her experience includes obtaining Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and state authorizations for major projects and transactions; FERC compliance and enforcement matters; FERC transmission and centralized markets issues; and rate, tariff and refund matters. She also represents energy clients before the Department of Energy, the Federal Communications Commission and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Cathy provides regulatory advice for commercial transactions, including asset sales, mergers and acquisitions. She also advises clients on generation and transmission development, such as providing advice on various ownership and rate structures available to transmission developers/owners and advice on generator interconnections. In addition, she has represented transmission owners in fully litigated FERC rate cases and in related appeals to the federal appellate courts. Cathy also advises on emerging legal issues presented by energy storage.

Cathy is consistently recognized as a top energy lawyer by Chambers Global (2014-2020) and Chambers USA (2010-2019); selected as one of The American Lawyer's 45 Under 45 (2011); and included in The Legal 500 United States, Energy: Regulatory (2011-2013, 2016-2019).

Catherine McCarthy is ‘absolutely fantastic and a leader in this space,’ according to clients. Sources add that she is ‘capable, knowledgeable, strategic’ and able to ‘consistently provide efficient and effective results.’
Chambers Global, 2020


Recent Notable Matters

Central Maine Power Company and The United Illuminating Company — FERC transmission Return on Equity Section 206 complaint proceedings, including three full administrative hearings, and related appeals to the D.C. Circuit (Coakley cases)

Rockland Capital, LLC — FERC approvals and other energy regulatory submittals for Rockland's asset acquisition of a portfolio of six generating plants with a combined generation capacity of 972.5 megawatt from AES Ohio Generation

Various clients — obtain Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approvals and submit required notices pursuant to Federal Power Action Sections 203, 204, 205 and 305

Utilities — represent before FERC, DOE and FCC on rate, market, merger, affiliate transaction, affiliate restriction, holding company and enforcement matters, including investigations

Renewable energy, conventional energy and energy storage project developers — advise on FERC and state regulatory issues, as well as centralized market issues, including advice on Qualifying Facility status, Exempt Wholesale Generator status and interconnection issues.

Great Plains Energy Incorporated — FERC regulatory submittals, including Federal Power Act Section 203 authorization, for the revised stock-for-stock merger of equals transaction with Westar Energy, Inc., creating Evergy Inc., a company with a combined equity value of approximately $14 billion, and with nearly 13,000 megawatt of generation capacity and more than 51,000 miles of distribution lines

Transmission developer — represent on FERC cost-of-service rate matters and related filings for an approximately $1 billion proposed transmission project to deliver clean energy to New England load

Engie (f/k/a GDF SUEZ Energy North America, Inc.) — energy regulatory matters and related assignments (before the FERC and the FCC) regarding its sale of 1.2 GW of pumped storage hydro assets and 0.2 GW of conventional hydro assets located in Massachusetts and Connecticut

AP Energy Holdings Inc. and South Field Energy LLC — regulatory matters for $1.3 billion project financing and equity arrangements for the construction of the South Field Energy project, a 1,182 megawatt combined-cycle natural gas electric generating facility located near Wellsville, Ohio

Publications and Speeches

“Renewable Projects Must Keep Up With FERC Filings,” Law360, August 2019.

"Utilities Must Track FCC Licensing, Spectrum Issues," Law360, October 2019.

"FERC Issues Transmission Notices of Inquiry Focused on Return on Equity and Transmission Incentives," National Law Review, March 2019.

"FERC Revises Interlocking Directorate Reporting Requirements," National Law Review, March 2019.

"Federal Energy Regulatory Approvals for Power M&A Transactions," American Bar Association, Infrastructure, August 2018.

"Regulated Industry M&A Transactions: Special Considerations and Recent Developments," Panelist, American Bar Association Webinar January 2018. 

"Investing in Energy:  Outlook and Opportunities, Power – Supply and Demand for Private Capital, Acquisition & Divestiture Driver and the Regulatory Dynamic," Panelist, Bloomberg BNA (New York, NY) November 2017. 

"A Call to Focus on Strengthening Grid Resiliency and Reliability," National Law Review, September 2017.

"FERC Compliance," Panelist, Portland, OR, October 2016.

"FERC Reconsiders Horizontal Market Power in Transactions," Law360, September 2016.

"Changing Mix of U.S. Power Generation Presents Opportunities and Legal Challenges," Panelist, American Bar Association, Webinar, May 2016.

"Energy & Utilities Sector," Roundtable Speaker, Financier Worldwide, December 2015.

"Energy Infrastructure Development Faces Impediments," Natural Gas & Electricity Journal, April 2015.

"Impacts of New FERC ROE Calculation Formulae on Transmission Owners and Projects," Panelist, Infocast’s 18th Annual Transmission Summit, Washington, DC, March 2015.

"Utility M&A: Mid-Year Update," Panelist, SNL Energy Webinar, September 2013.

"Rolling Off Long-Term Power Sales Agreements? Plan Ahead to Avoid Regulatory Speed Bumps," Speaker, 21st Annual North American Waste-to-Energy Conference, Naples, FL, April, 2013.

"Takeaways from FERC’s Recent Due Diligence Order," Law360, February 2013.

"FERC Order 1000 gives transmission planning an update," Windpower Engineering & Development, April 2012.

"Transmission Incentives and Order 1000," Speaker, Yale Alumni in Energy Annual Conference, New Haven, CT, March 2012.

"Regulatory Due Diligence," Speaker, SNL EXNET Power & Utilities M&A Symposium," New York, NY, January 2012.



Georgetown University Law Center,
Yale University,

Bar Admissions

District of Columbia
New York


Section Chair Elect, Infrastructure and Regulated Industries Section, American Bar Association



Energy Infrastructure Development Faces Impediments

March 13, 2015
Natural Gas Electricity



Challengers to FERC's Storage Order File Briefs with the D.C. Circuit

November 14, 2019

On November 6th, the last of three challengers to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (“FERC’s” or “Commission’s”) Storage Order, Orders No. 841 and 841, filed briefs with the D.C. Circuit seeking to vacate the Commission’s determination that states may not...

FERC Proposes Significant Reforms to its QF Regulations

September 25, 2019

On September 19, 2019, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or “Commission”) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) proposing significant changes to FERC’s regulations governing qualifying facilities (“QFs”) pursuant to the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978, as amended (“PURPA”)...

FERC Issues Transmission Notices of Inquiry Focused on Return on Equity and Transmission Incentives

On Thursday, March 21, 2019, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or “Commission”) issued two Notices of Inquiry (“NOIs”). One NOI focuses on FERC’s approach to determining the Return on Equity (“ROE”) for FERC jurisdictional electric transmission and cost-based wholesale power rates (“ROE Inquiry”)...

FERC Revises Interlocking Directorate Reporting Requirements

A February 21, 2019 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) order updated certain FERC interlocking directorate requirements (“Order”).[1]  More detailed background information on FERC’s interlocking directorate requirements is provided below, but in short, these requirements apply to the officers and directors...

FERC Annual Enforcement Update

FERC Annual Enforcement Update On November 16, 2017, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or the “Commission”) released the Office of Enforcement’s (“OE”) annual report on enforcement activities (“ Annual Report ”) for fiscal year...

FERC Improves Treatment of Passive Tax Equity for Transaction Approvals

October 9, 2017

On October 4, 2017, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) issued an order clarifying that it will not treat certain tax equity interests in public utilities or public utility holding companies as voting securities for purposes of transaction approval...

DOE Proposes FERC Action to Preserve and Compensate Baseload Generation Resources

Pursuant to its authority under Section 403 of the Department of Energy Organization Act, on September 29, 2017, the Department of Energy (“DOE”) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”)...

A Call to Focus on Strengthening Grid Resilience and Reliability: DOE Staff Report Offers Timely Insights on Fundamental Market Changes

September 14, 2017

The U.S. Department of Energy (“DOE”) recently released its highly-anticipated Staff Report to the Secretary on Electricity Markets and Reliability . The report weighs heavily on the themes of focusing...

A Path Begins to Emerge: Industry Responses to FERC Proposals Respecting State Policies and Eastern Wholesale Markets

A Path Begins to Emerge: Industry Responses to FERC Proposals Respecting State Policies and Eastern Wholesale Markets On May 1-2, 2017, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) held a two day conference focused on the interplay between state policy goals and the organized markets for energy and capacity operated by Regional Transmission Organizations (“RTO”) and Independent System Operators (“ISO”) in the East. The conference focused on what steps, if any, FERC should take to protect the integrity of wholesale markets given the recent proliferation of state policies intended to...

FERC Audit Report Provides Guidance Regarding Reporting Of Uplift And Capacity Payments In Electric Quarterly Reports

On October 14, 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) issued an order approving an audit report providing guidance regarding how to report certain types of transactions and payments received by those participating in the FERC-jurisdictional markets operated by Regional Transmission Organizations (“RTO”) and Independent System Operators (“ISO”) in a seller’s Electric Quarterly Reports (“EQR”). The audit report highlights pitfalls that market-based rate sellers should avoid when submitting EQRs and provides insight into areas of likely FERC scrutiny. In particular, FERC staff’s...

FERC Reconsidering Horizontal Market Power Analyses For Purposes of Section 203 Filings and Market-Based Rate Applications

Executive Summary On September 22, 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) issued a Notice of Inquiry (“NOI”) seeking comment on whether FERC should make changes to the manner in which it evaluates horizontal market power for purposes of evaluating transactions under Section 203 of the Federal Power Act (“FPA”) and its market-based rate program. Among other things, if FERC ultimately adopts this proposal, certain transactions that currently require no detailed market power analysis to be submitted in order to obtain approval would now be subject to more scrutiny. For instance...

FERC Alters Proposal to Enhance Reporting in Support of Enforcement

At the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (“FERC” or “Commission”) July 21, 2016 meeting, FERC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) proposing to establish a new reporting regime that would require market-based rate (“MBR”) sellers and entities only trading virtual products and financial transmission rights in markets operated by Regional Transmission Organizations (“RTO”) and Independent System Operators (“ISO”) (“Virtual/FTR Participants”) to submit detailed ownership, employee, and contractual information to a database maintained by FERC. FERC proposes that its staff would...

FERC Notice of Alleged Violation Foreshadowed by Market Monitor Report in Southwest Power Pool

On May 6, 2016, the Office of Enforcement of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) issued a Staff Notice of Alleged Violations (“NAV”), disclosing a nonpublic investigation in which FERC staff has preliminarily determined that Saracen Energy Midwest, LP (“Saracen”) violated Southwest Power Pool, Inc.’s (“SPP”) Open Access Transmission Tariff (“Tariff”), Attachment AE, § 7.4.1(4) between August 2014 and March 2015. According to FERC staff, Saracen submitted bids for transmission congestion rights (“TCRs”) at electronically equivalent settlement points, which is prohibited by § 7.4...

FERC Report on Transmission Investment and Related Technical Conference

March 18, 2016

At the March 17, 2016 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ("FERC") meeting, FERC's Office of Energy Policy and Innovation presented a report assessing the effectiveness of FERC's transmission investment policies, including Order No. 1000 reforms and identifying possible policy changes ("Report"). The Report includes data from 2013-2015. The report is located here and the presentation is located here . On March 17, 2016, FERC also announced a planned Technical Conference regarding competitive transmission development rates to be held on June 27-28, 2016, with details located here . The...



Chambers Global
Energy: Electricity (Regulatory & Litigation), 2014 - 2020
Chambers USA
Nationwide Energy: Electricity (Regulatory & Litigation), 2010 - 2019
The Legal 500 United States
Energy Regulatory: Conventional Power, 2017 - 2019; Energy: Regulatory, 2011 - 2013, 2016 - 2017; Energy Litigation: Conventional Power, 2019; Transaction and Regulatory, 2011
Euromoney Institutional Investor plc
Expert Guides
Energy & Natural Resources, 2012 - 2019
Euromoney Institutional Investor plc
Expert Guides, Women in Business Law
Energy & Natural Resources, 2012 - 2019
Euromoney Institutional Investor plc
Expert Guides, USA Best of the Best
2017 – 2019
Thomson Reuters
Washington, DC Super Lawyers
2013, 2015 - 2019
ALM Media Properties, LLC
The American Lawyer
45 Under 45, 2011
Georgetown University Law Center
Georgetown Immigration Law Journal
Administrative Editor
Columbus School of Law
The Catholic University of America
Adjunct professor, 1996-1998