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Elizabeth Thomas

Partner
+1.206.370.7631
Fax +1.206.370.6190

Ms. Thomas is a partner in the firm's Seattle office and member of K&L Gates' Energy, Infrastructure and Resources practice.

Ms. Thomas has a national practice, concentrating in a range of matters related to energy and water regulation, transactions and project development. This includes:

  • Licensing, re-licensing, and compliance for hydropower facilities
  • Siting, permitting and development of renewable and traditional energy facilities
  • Creating, trading and using carbon credits, renewable energy credits, and greenhouse gas mitigation strategies
  • Counseling clients on potential mergers and asset acquisitions, with an emphasis on regulatory and environmental issues
  • Conducting litigation involving energy facilities, water rights and rates
  • Advising clients on public policy issues

Professional Background

  • Law Clerk, Hon. A. David Mazzone, United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, 1979-80

Achievements


  • Named the Best Lawyers’ 2012 Seattle Energy Law Lawyer of the Year
  • Named a Best Lawyer in America by Best Lawyers, Energy Law, 2009-2016

Professional/Civic Activities

 
  • Member, Legal Foundation of Washington Board of Trustees (appointed by Washington State Supreme Court), 2011-2014; President, 2014 
  • Past member Climate Solutions Board of Directors, 2005-2010
  • Chair, Energy Facility Siting Process Review Committee, 1993-1994

Speaking Engagements

 
  • “New Regional Energy Needs: The Promise of Pumped Hydropower Storage,” presented at Hydropower in the Northwest Conference (October 2014)
  • “The Business of Renewable Energy - Integrating Intermittent Resources,” presented at Washington Future Energy Conference (November 2012)
  • “Looking Past Coal,” presented at Northwest & Intermountain Power Producers Coalition annual conference (September 2012)
  • “News from the Intersection of GMA and Water Rights: Kittitas County v. EWGMHB,” presented at 20th Annual Conference on Growth Management and Land Use (LSI, November 2011) 
  • “Bridging the Gap between Early and Late-Stage Financing,” presented at Midwest Cleantech 2010 Conference, September 14, 2010
  • “Implications of Greenhouse Gas Regulation by EPA, Congress and States for Public Power in the Pacific Northwest,” presented at Washington Society of Municipal and PUD Attorneys, December 2, 2009.
  • EPA Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gases Rule Telebriefing, October 20, 2009 (Sponsor: Law Seminars International)
  • 2009 NIPPC Annual Meeting - Climate Change Policy Panel, September 2009 (Northwest & Intermountain Power Producers Coalition annual conference)
  • “Energy Finance,” presented at the Recovery Act Bond Finance Opportunities in Washington State Conference (July 2009)
  • “Water and Energy: Uneasy Alliance,” presented at the ABA’s 27th Annual Water Law Conference (February 2009)
  • “Towards a Sustainable, Accessible and Equitable Energy Future,” peer exchange with the Thai Energy Regulatory Commission (October 2008)
  • “Carbon Credits: Legal Framework and Case Studies,” presented at Northwest Environmental Business Council (December 2007)
  •  “Water Issues for Energy Development,” presented at Washington Water Law Conference (LSI, June 2007)
  • Co-chair, LSI Northwest Power Supplies Conference (August 2003)
  • “Hydro Relicensing: Striking a Balance,” presented at Northwest Power Supplies (LSI, Aug. 2003)
  • “The Petition Method of Annexation: Fire Protection Dist. V. Moses Lake,” presented at The 58th Legislature – Studies in the Separation of Powers CLE Seminar (July 2003)
  • “Powering Forward,” presented at Northwest Energy Conference (Apr. 2003)
  • Co-chair, LSI Pacific Northwest Power Supply Options Conference, Sep. 2002
  • “Water for Power,” presented at Washington Water Law Conference (LSI, May 2002)
  • “Generating Facility Permitting and Regulatory Approvals,” presented at Public Construction SuperConference (ACI, Dec. 2001)
  • Co-chair, LSI Power and Water Conference, Aug. 2001
  • “Background on ESA,” presented at People, Water, Fish and Property (ULI District Council, Apr. 2000)
  • “The Clean Water Act and the TMDL Process,” presented at Washington Clean Water (LSI, Dec. 1998)
  • “Authority for Public Ownership of Telecommunications Facilities,” presented at Local Telecommunications Infrastructure (LSI, Sept. 1998)
  • “The Clean Water Act and the TMDL Process,” presented at Washington Clean Water (LSI, Dec. 1997)
  • “Permitting and Regulatory Issues in Siting New Natural Gas-Fired Power Plants:  Washington State Perspective,” presented at Natural Gas in the Northwest (Oct. 1994)
  • “What Are Washington’s Policies on Siting New Natural Gas-Fueled Generation?” presented at Natural Gas in the Northwest: Capitalizing In This Expanding Market (May 1994)
  • “What If Not Flow Control?  Solid Waste Disposal Districts,” presented at Managing All the Resources (NW Regional Solid Waste Symposium, Apr. 1994)

Hydropower

  • City of Seattle: FERC relicensing, license implementation and compliance for the Boundary hydroelectric project.
  • PPL Corporation: FERC relicensing, license implementation and compliance for the Wallenpaupack hydroelectric project in Pennsylvania.
  • PPL Montana: FERC relicensing for the Mystic hydroelectric project.
  • Klickitat PUD: permitting and development of the proposed JD Pool pumped storage hydroelectric facility. 
  • Alcoa Power Generating, Inc.: litigation over ownership of the bed of the Yadkin Project in North Carolina; advice relating to relicensing and 401 water quality certification.
  • PPL Montana: litigation over ownership of the beds of the Missouri-Madison Project and the Clark Fork Project.
  • Capital Power: FERC headwater benefits for the Curtis Palmer project in New York; project acquisition, compliance and disposition
  • Boralex: FERC headwater benefits for South Glens Falls and Hudson Falls projects (NY).
  • TDX Power: permitting of the proposed Chackachamna project. 
  • Private developer: advise on potential PPP with municipality to develop hydropower at existing dam in Pennsylvania.
  • Private licenses and developers (multiple): due diligence and structuring advice on potential acquisition of existing and proposed projects throughout the U.S.
  • Washington municipality: advise on potential addition of hydropower generation to existing water supply system.
  • Washington municipality: advise on licensing and reservoir management agreement.

Siting and Transactions

  • Tractebel/GDF Suez: EFSEC siting and development of the 520 megawatt gas-fired Chehalis Generation Facility.
  • Energy Northwest: siting of the Pacific Mountain Energy Center, a proposed 680 megawatt integrated gasification combined cycle generation facility.
  • Westcoast/EPCOR/Capital Power: siting and development of the 249 megawatt gas-fired Frederickson Generation Facility.
  • Capital Power: siting and development of the proposed Clover Creek Generation Facility.  
  • Represented purchaser of Washington combined electric and gas utility with respect to regional, state and local legal and regulatory matters.
  • Represented seller of 520 MW natural gas-fired generating facility to Northwest and Rocky Mountain states investor-owned utility.
  • Represented purchaser of privately held company owning all or portions of 13 cogeneration projects located in California, Colorado, Indiana, New Jersey and North Carolina.
  • Represented independent power producer in sale to Washington investor-owned utility of nearly one-half interest as tenant in common in 250 MW natural gas-fired generating facility.
  • Represented independent power producer in purchase from federal agency of partially completed natural gas-fired electric generating facility in Washington.
  • Represented owner of coal-fired electric generating facility in transactions providing for sale of output, phased decommissioning and related matters.
  • Represented independent power producers in rulemaking proceedings.

Litigation

  • PPL Montana, LLC v. State of Montana, 565 U.S. ___, 132 S.Ct. 1215 (2012).
  • Okeson v. City of Seattle, 159 Wn.2nd 436, 150 P.3d 556 (2007).
  • Fire Protection District v. City of Yakima, 122 Wn.2d 371, 858 P.2d 245 (1993).
  • Taxpayers of Whatcom County v. Whatcom County, 66 Wn.App. 284, 831 P.2d 1140 (1992).
  • City of Tacoma v. State of Washington, 117 Wn.2d 348, 816 P.2d 7 (1991).
  • State Dept. of Ecology v. State Finance Committee, 116 Wn.2d 246, 804 P.2d 1241 (1991).
  • Hite v. Grant County PUD, 112 Wn.2d 456, 772 P.2d 481 (1989).
  • Peoples’ Org. For Washington Energy Resources v. Wash. Utils. & Transp. Comm’n, 104 Wn.2d 798, 711 P.2d 319 (1985).
Liz Thomas is a member of the firm's water law practice group. She has prosecuted water rights permit applications, represented clients in water rights adjudication proceedings, drafted and negotiated documents for water right transfers and water system acquisition. In addition, she has advised clients on issues relating to water supply, water quality, system planning, watershed planning, tribal claims, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. The Martindale-Hubbell Directory has awarded Liz an "AV" rating, the Directory's highest accolade. She is the recent-past chair of Preston Gates' Environmental and Land Use Department.

Liz's practice at the firm focuses on environmental, municipal and utility law. Her activities include establishment of agreements and bodies under the Interlocal Cooperation Act; drafting state and local legislation; litigating municipal and utility issues, and advising on municipal utility, resource, governance and finance issues. Her legislative work has included advice and drafting on various pieces of proposed legislation and regulations relating to water rights, watershed planning, instream flows, reclaimed water, and Clean Water Act implementation.

Publications and Presentations
  • Faculty member and participant at the Seminar Group's conference on Regional Hydropower Relicensing in Seattle, Washington (June 2006)
  • Co-chair, LSI Northwest Power Supplies Conference (August 2003)
  • "Hydro Relicensing: Striking a Balance," presented at Northwest Power Supplies (LSI, Aug. 2003)
  • "The Petition Method of Annexation: Fire Protection Dist. V. Moses Lake," presented at The 58th Legislature - Studies in the Separation of Powers CLE Seminar (July 2003)
  • "The Temperature is Rising: Developments in Greenhouse Gas Mitigation," 30 Environmental and Land Use Newsletter 1 (April 2003)
  • "Powering Forward," presented at Northwest Energy Conference (Apr. 2003)
  • Co-chair, LSI Pacific Northwest Power Supply Options Conference, (Sep. 2002)
  • "Water for Power," presented at Washington Water Law Conference (LSI, May 2002)
  • "Generating Facility Permitting and Regulatory Approvals," presented at Public Construction SuperConference (ACI, Dec. 2001)
  • Co-chair, LSI Power and Water Conference, Aug. 2001
  • "Background on ESA," presented at People, Water, Fish and Property (ULI District Council, Apr. 2000)
  • "A Hypothetical Case-Issues and Strategies for Achieving Goals," presented at 8th Annual Water Law Seminar (Dec. 1999).
  • "Mitigation and Conservation Programs: Committing Water to Instream Flows," presented at the 8th Annual LSI Seminar on Water Law (May 6-7, 1999).
  • "The Clean Water Act and the TMDL Process," presented at Washington Clean Water (LSI, Dec. 1998)
  • "Authority for Public Ownership of Telecommunications Facilities," presented at Local Telecommunications Infrastructure (LSI, Sept. 1998)
  • Co-author, Fundamentals of Water Law in Washington: Protecting Water Rights, Use and Quality (NBI, 1997).
  • "The Clean Water Act and the TMDL Process," presented at Washington Clean Water (LSI, Dec. 1997)
  • Moderator, "Policy Discussion: Water Quality/Quantity Issues," Association of Washington Business (AWB) Environmental Conference (June 1997).
  • Co-chair, LSI Sixth Annual Conference on Washington Water Law
  • (May 1-2, 1997); presented paper, "Municipal Suppliers of Water."
  • "Water Quality," presented at Fundamentals of Water Law in Washington: Protecting Water Rights, Use and Quality (April 1997).
  • "The Clean Water Act and the TMDL Process," presented at Washington Clean Water (LSI, Dec. 1997)
  • "Permitting and Regulatory Issues in Siting New Natural Gas-Fired Power Plants: Washington State Perspective," presented at Natural Gas in the Northwest (Oct. 1994)
  • "What Are Washington's Policies on Siting New Natural Gas-Fueled Generation?" presented at Natural Gas in the Northwest: Capitalizing In This Expanding Market (May 1994)
  • "What If Not Flow Control? Solid Waste Disposal Districts," presented at Managing All the Resources (NW Regional Solid Waste Symposium, Apr. 1994)
Other Activities
  • Board member for climate solutions (2005- )
  • Reclaimed Water Rights Policy Work Group (1996-97): Served on committee convened by the Washington Department of Ecology to address water rights policy issues for reclaimed water
  • Energy Facility Siting Process Review Committee (1993-94): Appointed by governor to chair this statutory committee which reported and made recommendations on all aspects of facility siting
  • Advisory Committee to Joint Select Committee on Water Resources (1992-93): Appointed by Washington Legislature to advise on water issues under Growth Management Act
  • Cost Allocation Advisory Group for the Seattle City Council's Energy Committee (1985): Advised Energy Committee members on conservation, revenue, cost allocation and rate design issues
  • Seattle City Light Citizens' Rate Advisory Committee (1984-85): As vice-chair and Steering Committee member, was responsible for setting agendas, conducting meetings, seeking consensus among the broad interests represented on the CRAC, and advancing CRAC's positions both within the utility and with local and state elected officials
  • American Bar Association (1987-present): Electric Power Committee (vice-chair, 1994-95) of Section on Natural Resources, Energy and Environmental Law; Section on Public Utility Law
  • Northwest Women's Law Center (1981-present): Member; served on Legal Committee (1988-89)
  • Northwest Public Power Association (1995-present): Affiliate member
Representative Court Decisions
  • Fire Protection District v. City of Yakima, 122 Wn.2d 371, 858 P.2d 245 (1993)
  • Taxpayers of Whatcom County v. Whatcom County, 66 Wn.App. 284, 831 P.2d 1140 (1992)
  • City of Tacoma v. State of Washington, 117 Wn.2d 348, 816 P.2d 7 (1991)
  • State Dept. of Ecology v. State Finance Committee, 116 Wn.2d 246, 804 P.2d 1241 (1991)
  • Hite v. Grant County PUD, 112 Wn.2d 456, 772 P.2d 481 (1989)
  • Peoples' Org. For Washington Energy Resources v. Wash. Utils. & Transp. Comm'n, 104 Wn.2d 798, 711 P.2d 319 (1985)