Global law firm Reed Smith LLP today announced the addition of Colette D. Honorable, former commissioner of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and Regina Y. Speed-Bost, chair of Schiff Hardin’s Energy Group, to its market-leading international Energy & Natural Resources (ENR) practice.
Honorable and Speed-Bost join Reed Smith as partners resident in the firm’s Washington, D.C., office, spearheading the firm’s FERC offering. Additionally, Debra Ann Palmer, a colleague of Speed-Bost’s who joins as counsel from Schiff Hardin, brings further extensive FERC and state regulatory experience.
“Energy and energy regulation remain key elements in the business success of many Reed Smith clients in the United States and around the world,” said Sandy Thomas, Reed Smith’s global managing partner. “The addition of Colette and Regina, who will be leading our FERC capability in the United States, demonstrates our dedication to helping our clients meet their regulatory imperatives and attain their energy goals.”
“Both Colette and Regina are renowned leaders in energy regulatory law; their complementary government and private sector perspectives will provide our clients with one of most significant and game-changing FERC practices in the United States,” said ENR Chair Prajakt Samant. “This addition underscores our commitment to building out our stateside energy offering in order to meet our energy and commodities clients’ needs, which include responding rapidly and proactively to fluid policies, regulations and enforcement initiatives.”
Colette D. Honorable
Honorable was nominated to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission by President Barack Obama in August 2014, and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate in December 2014. At FERC, Honorable issued decisions in thousands of dockets and focused on reliability oversight of the bulk power system, cyber and physical security, oversight of wholesale markets, transmission planning and cost allocation in regional transmission organizations, gas-electric coordination, renewables integration, energy storage integration and valuation, enforcement, ratemaking, infrastructure development, and enforcement matters. Prior to her arrival at the FERC, she served as chair and commissioner at the Arkansas Public Service Commission, where she oversaw an agency with jurisdiction over 450 utilities and approximate annual revenues of $5 billion. These appointments culminated in nearly 10 years of regulatory experience in key leadership roles.
“Reed Smith provides a unique and special opportunity for me to build upon strong existing relationships and forge new ones, while developing a world-class energy regulatory practice,” said Honorable. “The firm’s exceptional global resources, reputation, and commitment to outstanding client service will allow me to excel in this next phase of my career. Additionally, the prospect of working with Regina is very exciting. She is an attorney whose talent I have known and admired from my years on the Commission and in the sector.”
Honorable is also past president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, where she focused on pipeline safety, reliability, resilience, fuel diversity, and workforce succession and diversity. She has testified before Congress on multiple occasions on a range of energy issues. She is a highly regarded policy maker in domestic and international energy sectors.
Prior to joining the Arkansas PSC, Honorable served as chief of staff to then Arkansas Attorney General Mike Beebe, and as a member of the governor’s cabinet as executive director of the Arkansas Workforce Investment Board. Her previous positions include service as an assistant attorney general in consumer protection and civil litigation, and as a senior assistant attorney general in Medicaid fraud, before serving as an adjunct professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law, and Special Judge in the Pulaski County Circuit Court.
Honorable is an ambassador for the Clean Energy Education and Empowerment Initiative, an effort co-led by the U.S. Department of Energy and the MIT Energy Initiative, formed under the auspices of the International Clean Energy Ministerial. She has also held previous appointments to the National Petroleum Council, and served as chair of the Department of Transportation’s Joint Technical Advisory Committee for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. She is a graduate of the University of Memphis, and received her law degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law.
In addition to heading Schiff Hardin’s Energy Group, Speed-Bost was the coordinating partner of that firm’s Washington, D.C., office and chair of its firmwide Diversity Committee. She began her legal career at the FERC, first as a trial attorney, then served as an advisor attorney, and ultimately as senior advisor to a former FERC Commissioner. She is well known for her ability to communicate among business owners, regulators and engineers.
“I am thrilled to be joining Reed Smith’s energy practice and combining forces with Colette, who has a sterling reputation in the energy industry, as well as on both sides of the political spectrum,” said Speed-Bost. “She and I have moved in the same professional circles, and known of one another’s capabilities and successes for some time. Our philosophies and approaches are well-aligned, as is our desire to help our clients navigate the host of new and changing compliance and regulatory structures in the energy space, which are only now developing in the new administration.”
Speed-Bost advises a wide range of clients and market participants in the Energy & Natural Resources sector including natural gas companies, local distribution companies, electric utilities and cooperatives on matters related to energy administrative and regulatory law. In addition to fluency in the realms of both regulators and executives, she has a broad understanding of the roles the energy sector plays in the health of the overall economy, and she applies that fundamental knowledge to her practice.
Along with handling cases of first impression throughout the energy industry, and representing clients in landmark rate and tariff matters, on the power side, she focuses on Independent System Operator (ISO) operations for a broad array of ISO Market Participants, and provides a full range of services for other energy utility-related issues. On the commodities side, she focuses on interstate natural gas pipeline tariff, rate, and service issues, and all other services related to FERC’s jurisdiction over the transportation of natural gas through interstate commerce.
As a former co-chair of the Energy Bar Association President’s Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity, as well as chairing Diversity Committees at previous law firms, Speed-Bost has headed up diversity initiatives throughout her career, generally and specifically for the energy bar and energy industry.
She is a graduate of Dartmouth College and received her law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center.
Debra Ann Palmer
New counsel Palmer also brings Reed Smith extensive experience with the FERC and numerous state regulatory agencies, such as coordinating gas and electric industries to ensure reliable service. Her experience includes expanding the natural gas pipeline infrastructure in New England, which encompassed precedent-setting agreements.
A 1987 graduate of the Case Western Reserve School of Law, Palmer has guided numerous settlement negotiations for clients under investigation by FERC’s Office of Enforcement, including providing assistance with federal data requests, as well as drafting internal compliance manuals and training materials, conducting onsite training on FERC rules and requirements, and counseling energy industry clients on compliance with Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) regulations.
“Bringing on a premier FERC practice is just one more part of the firm’s strategy and commitment to ongoing growth in the energy and natural resources space,” said Kyri Evagora, now U.S.-based vice chair of the firm’s Business & Finance Department, who led ENR’s growth across Europe, Asia and the United States over the past 10 years. “We are ramping up in the Americas to be sure we have the depth and strength of experience in all areas of our energy practice to help our clients succeed.”
Reed Smith’s single partnership model and its unique global footprint, which spans major markets such as Houston, Pittsburgh, D.C., New York, Singapore and London, is increasingly attracting interest among an array of players in the energy and natural resources sectors.