Dian Grueneich, Former California Public Utilities Commissioner, Joins Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco


Susan H. Mac Cormac

Press Release

San Francisco, CA (March 21, 2011) – Morrison & Foerster LLP announced today that Dian Grueneich has joined as a partner in the Environment and Energy Practice in the San Francisco office. Ms. Grueneich is a highly respected energy regulatory lawyer with over 30 years of experience in the public and private sectors. She joins from the California Public Utilities Commission, where she served as a Commissioner for the past six years. She is one of the nation’s leading authorities on the nexus of energy law, environmental policy and energy regulation. Also joining is Ms. Grueneich’s longtime colleague and former Chief of Staff, Theresa Cho. Ms. Cho will become Of Counsel in the firm’s San Francisco office. Ms. Grueneich and Ms. Cho specialize in energy regulation with specific expertise in transmission, energy efficiency, smart grid and renewable energy.

Ms. Grueneich’s arrival is an important addition to Morrison & Foerster’s Environment and Energy and Cleantech Practices. The California Public Utilities Commission originated numerous ground-breaking clean energy policies during her tenure. She served as lead Commissioner for energy efficiency, demand response, and transmission issues. She is credited with shepherding the successful permitting of three major new transmission lines – representing more than $6 billion in energy infrastructure – through the state’s challenging project approval process. The lines are designed to bring a much-needed supply of additional renewable energy to California’s load centers.

She was also responsible for developing the 2008 California Long-Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan, and oversaw a 40% expansion of energy efficiency funding in 2009 alone. She helped implement the state’s Greenhouse Gas emission control initiatives, and served as the Commissioner representative on Governor Schwarzenegger’s Climate Action Team.

Morrison & Foerster’s Cleantech Practice, one of the largest of any law firm, includes over 150 attorneys around the globe who regularly counsel clients in developing and commercializing the latest technologies, products and services to address climate change and natural resource constraints. The firm’s energy group has worked on numerous cutting-edge deals in recent years. That includes advising on a new generation of U.S.-based nuclear power projects. The firm was selected by the U.S. Department of Energy as a “core counsel” for its $38.5 billion loan guarantee program in support of renewable energy and is currently representing the DOE in connection with seven renewable energy loan guarantees.

Susan MacCormac, co-chair of Morrison & Foerster’s Business Department, commented: “Energy policy is a strategic concern for every industry as companies closely monitor regulatory changes both to capitalize on opportunities for growth, and to address potential risks to their business models. Dian’s command of these essential issues will be a strategic asset to both new and existing clients.  Her policymaking experience and prior activities, not only in California but nationally and internationally, add a vital element to our existing energy, environmental and Cleantech capabilities. She will work closely with attorneys advising on patent and intellectual property, corporate transactions, project finance, development, and litigation matters. Her arrival is a clear signal of our strength as one of the preeminent Cleantech practices.”

Chris Carr, chair of Morrison & Foerster’s Environment and Energy Group, added, “Dian represents an important enhancement of our capability in advising businesses on a host of renewable energy and greenhouse gas issues. Our clients, who include major utilities and power generators as well as emerging solar and alternative energy providers, need guidance on a myriad of regulatory matters where Dian and Theresa can provide invaluable assistance.”

Ms. Grueneich said, “Morrison & Foerster has built one of the leading Cleantech and environmental practices in the United States and is quickly expanding its energy capabilities. We see a tremendous opportunity to help the firm cement its position as a premier, total energy advisor.”

Ms. Grueneich’s career in energy law and policy began as Staff Counsel and later Deputy General Counsel for the California Energy Commission. She also headed her own advisory practice, working with energy providers, industrial trade organizations, large customers, and public utility clients. Among her noteworthy projects were developing strategic energy plans for Los Angeles County and the California State University system. She also worked in private practice as an energy and environmental attorney.

Ms. Grueneich earned her J.D. with Honors from the Georgetown University Law Center (1977), and received her B.A. from Stanford University (1974).

Ms. Cho received her J.D. from Boalt Law School in 1991 and her B.A. from Wesleyan University in 1986.    

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