John N. Estes III

John N. Estes III

Partner, Energy Regulatory

John Estes, head of Skadden’s Energy Regulatory Group, advises clients on cutting-edge legal issues of importance to the energy sector. His practice involves counseling on regulatory matters at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), trials, enforcement, appeals and transactions, sometimes in multiforum combinations.

Bio

On regulatory matters, Mr. Estes also has played a lead role in numerous agency cases that stopped short of trial, including representing generators in a series of disputes over capacity markets spanning more than a decade. His experience advising clients and handling disputes regarding organized electric markets spans more than 20 years, dating to when those markets were in their infancy. He recently represented NextEra in obtaining declaratory relief from FERC over a complex affiliate issue that affected virtually all investor-owned utilities. He also has represented the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), a corporation wholly owned by the federal government, in a dispute about whether FERC can order the TVA to wheel power in certain circumstances. Additionally, Mr. Estes recently obtained a waiver of a MISO interconnection rule for the Indianapolis Power & Light Company. He has a long history of representing both traditional utilities and new entrants with the potential to disrupt the industry.

Mr. Estes’ agency practice also involves advising clients in the natural gas industry. Among other matters, he has represented New Fortress Energy in a FERC case about whether an existing facility in Puerto Rico needs FERC authorization as an LNG terminal.

In the administrative trial space, Mr. Estes has represented principal litigants in a range of controversies with billions of dollars at stake, including the “California Refund Case,” the “California Long-Term Contract Case” and the “LICAP” case.

In enforcement matters, in addition to his court representation of energy trader Alan Chen, he has represented GreenHat and the estate of Andrew Kittell in a FERC enforcement show-cause order process. Other public representations have included Barclays Bank PLC, JP Morgan Ventures Energy Corp., DB Energy Trading, LLC and Rumford Paper Company. On behalf of Footprint, he secured the first total dismissal by FERC of an enforcement matter that reached the show-cause order stage. Additionally, he has navigated many nonpublic FERC enforcement cases to conclusion without sanction.

Mr. Estes also has an active appellate practice. He has argued 30 cases in the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the D.C., First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Ninth and Tenth Circuits. He recently represented NextEra in two related Ninth Circuit appeals concerning FERC authority in the context of contract rejection in bankruptcy.

He also advises on a wide range of transactional issues involving the electric and natural gas industries. Of historical note, he represented Bear Stearns in obtaining the first retroactive merger approval by FERC in the wake of J.P. Morgan’s acquisition of Bear Stearns during the financial crisis in 2008.

Mr. Estes is ranked as a Star Individual in Chambers USA and has been ranked in the top tier in Chambers Global each year since 2005.

For several years, he has been a board member of The Washington Ballet, including serving on the Executive Committee of the board during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Credentials

Education

  • J.D., Louisiana State University, 1983
  • B.A., Tulane University, 1979

Admissions

  • District of Columbia

John N. Estes III