Donna Francescani Byrne
Energy Law and Litigation
Donna Byrne represents electric power and natural gas market participants in enforcement investigations and administrative litigation before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and in appeals of FERC orders in the federal appellate courts. Ms. Byrne has represented clients in numerous FERC enforcement investigations involving alleged market manipulation, as well as alleged violations of reliability standards. She has represented clients in complex contract litigation and other commercial disputes, including litigation arising out of the California energy crisis and issues related to RTO withdrawal. Her practice also includes counseling clients on FERC regulatory issues and evaluating and developing their FERC compliance programs. She has counseled numerous clients on issues related to qualifying facilities under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act. Ms. Byrne also has represented clients in state and federal court actions, including federal qui tam actions, and in U.S. and international arbitration proceedings.
In addition to her energy practice, Ms. Byrne has been actively involved in pro bono matters throughout her career, dedicating substantial time and effort to serving the diverse legal needs of the indigent. In 2007, she received the Daniel M. Gibbon Pro Bono Advocacy Award for distinguished advocacy before the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The same year, Ms. Byrne also received the Florida Bar’s Out-of-State Division Pro Bono Service Recognition award. From 2003 until 2006, Ms. Byrne served on the board of directors of the D.C. Chapter of Justice for Children, a national nonprofit organization.
Representative matters include:
- led trial team for FirstEnergy Service Company in FERC administrative litigation involving alleged liability of withdrawing transmission owner for MISO MVP charges (FERC Docket No. ER12-715-003);
- represented Deutsche Bank in a FERC Show Cause Order proceeding arising from enforcement investigation and negotiated settlement resolving investigation (FERC Docket No. IN12-4-000);
- filed a successful petition for declaratory order on behalf of PJM and secured a FERC order vindicating enforceability of tariff liability limitation under attack from civil tort litigant (PJM Interconnection, L.L.C., 139 FERC ¶ 61,183 (2012), order on reh’g, 142 FERC 61,020 (2013));
- successfully defended FirstEnergy Corp. in a complaint proceeding alleging miscellaneous violations associated with capacity auctions and MBR authorization, and obtained order denying complaint and declining to initiate enforcement investigation (EnerNOC Inc. v. FirstEnergy Corp., 135 FERC 61,027 (2011));
- represented a merchant transmission project as intervenor in appeal resulting in an order affirming favorable FERC decision (Pub. Serv. Elec. & Gas Co. v. FERC, 485 F.3d 1164 (D.C. Cir. 2007));
- successfully represented Colstrip Energy Limited Partnership in contested QF proceeding involving waste “rib” coal; FERC granted recertification and rejected challenge to QF status (Colstrip Energy Limited P’ship, 117 FERC ¶ 61,265 (2006), order on reh’g, 119 FERC ¶ 61,133 (2007));
- successfully defended Colstrip Energy Limited Partnership in matter challenging QF status based on ownership criteria (Investigation of Certain Enron-Affiliated QFs, 111 FERC ¶ 61,014 (2005));
- successfully defended Portland General Electric Co. in a complaint proceeding resulting in an order dismissing the complaint on jurisdictional grounds (Water and Power Dep’t of the City of Glendale v. Portland General Elec., 113 FERC ¶ 61,285 (2005));
- successfully represented major auditing firm in a qui tam action alleging FCA violations related to the firm’s association with Enron; the court granted the dismissal for failure to state a claim (United States ex rel. Grynberg v. Ernst & Young LLP, et al., 323 F. Supp. 2d 1152 (D. Wyo. 2004)); and
- successfully represented a pro bono death row inmate; the court directed the state of Texas to vacate the death sentence or conduct a new constitutionally permissible sentencing proceeding (Blue v. Cockrell, 298 F.3d 318 (5th Cir. 2002)).
J.D., George Washington University School of Law, 1996
B.A., Boston College, 1990
Law Clerk, Hon. Daniel T.K. Hurley, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida (1998-1999)
Member, Energy Bar Association
United States District Court for the District of Columbia’s Daniel M. Gribbon Pro Bono Advocacy Award, 2007
The Florida Bar Association Out-of-State Division Pro Bono Service Recognition Award, 2007
“The Regulation of Qualifying Facilities Under PURPA,” Chapter 14, Energy Regulatory Compliance: The Skadden Handbook, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, December 2005