Chuck Sensiba provides strategic counsel and legal representation to public utility districts, and governmental entities, investor-owned utilities, water districts, and independent power producers; and covers the full spectrum of complex licensing, natural resources, and environmental issues related to water and power development. He has broad experience in matters under the Federal Power Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, National Historic Preservation Act, Federal Land Policy and Management Act and Coastal Zone Management Act.
Recognizing that complex energy and natural resources issues are often resolved most efficiently and effectively through a multi-faceted legal and policy strategy, Chuck has successfully assisted many clients in achieving their business objectives through engagement with Congress and Executive Department agencies and bureaus. As a recognized thought leader on water and power policy, Chuck brings trusted subject-matter expertise and experience in policy advocacy.
• Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA). Serves as regulatory and strategic counsel to GRDA on a full range of FERC relicensing and compliance matters, environmental and natural resources issues, federal lands, and Native American law related to the 105 MW Pensacola Project, the 108 MW Markham Ferry Project, and the 260 MW Salina Pumped Storage Project. Currently serves as relicensing counsel for the Pensacola Project through FERC's Integrated Licensing Process (ILP). Previously represented GRDA before FERC in a major FERC license amendment proposing changes to the project's reservoir operations – a proposal that was approved by FERC over the strong opposition of numerous federal and state agencies, local interests, and several federally recognized tribes.
• Southern California Edison (SCE). Serves as hydropower relicensing and compliance counsel for SCE in the FERC decommissioning of the 2.25 MW San Gorgonio Project; the FERC relicensing of the 949.6 MW Big Creek System; license implementation and compliance matters related to the 3 MW Lundy Project and 11.9 MW Rush Creek Project; and in the ongoing FERC relicensing (through the ILP) of the 6.9 MW Kaweah Project.
• PacifiCorp. Advises PacifiCorp on complex matters related to the ongoing relicensing and proposed decommissioning of the 169 MW Klamath Hydroelectric Project in California and Oregon.
• Chelan County Public Utility District (Chelan PUD). Serves as hydropower relicensing and regulatory counsel to Chelan PUD for the 59 MW Lake Chelan Hydroelectric Project, the 421 MW Rock Island Hydroelectric Project and the 866 MW Rocky Reach Hydroelectric Project. Currently provides early strategic advice related to the upcoming relicensing of the Rock Island Project; permitting requirements of the U.S. National Park Service for hydropower located within Lake Chelan National Recreation Area; dam safety matters; relicensing settlement implementation; and FERC license compliance requirements for a proposed rehabilitation of the Rock Island Project.
• NorthWestern Energy. Serves as FERC hydropower relicensing counsel to NorthWestern in the relicensing of the 93 MW Thompson Falls Project in Montana, including issues related to federal lands and ESA-listed bull trout.
• WEC Energy Group (WEC). Serves as FERC hydropower regulatory counsel to WEC with regard to its fleet of more than two dozen hydropower projects (licensed to Wisconsin Electric Power Co., Wisconsin Public Service Corp. and Wisconsin River Power Co.) within the Wisconsin River and Menominee River basins in Wisconsin and Michigan.
• Sabine River Authorities of Texas and Louisiana (SRA). Serves as FERC hydropower counsel to the SRAs for the 82 MW Toledo Bend Project – one of the largest reservoirs in the United States and the most expansive licensed by FERC. Negotiated two separate comprehensive relicensing settlement agreements for the continued operation of the project, including a 50-year new license term (the maximum term authorized by federal law). Obtained special, targeted federal legislation to reduce regulatory burdens related to federal lands at the project, including National Forest lands and congressionally designated wilderness area. Currently advises the SRAs on license implementation and compliance matters.
• Portland General Electric (PGE). Serves as FERC hydropower regulatory counsel to PGE for the 17 MW Willamette Falls Project, the 137 MW Clackamas River Project, and the 367 MW Pelton Round Butte Project. Currently advises PGE on FERC licensing requirements related to reconstruction of the more than 100-year-old Faraday Powerhouse (part of the Clackamas Project).
• New York Power Authority (NYPA). Serves as relicensing counsel to NYPA in the relicensing of the 11.8 MW Crescent Project and 11.8 MW Vischer Ferry Project. Served as FERC regulatory counsel to NYPA for the relicensing of the 1,160 Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Power Project, which is being relicensed through FERC's ILP, including serving as lead negotiator for NYPA in a comprehensive relicensing settlement, which was executed and filed with FERC in early 2018. Served as relicensing counsel to NYPA in the successful relicensing of the 912 MW St. Lawrence-FDR Power Project and 2,756 MW Niagara Power Project.
• South Carolina Public Service Authority. Serves as FERC hydropower relicensing and regulatory counsel for the 135 MW Santee Cooper Project.
• State of Alaska. Served as FERC regulatory counsel and strategic advisor to the state on a full range of issues concerning FERC licensing, environmental and natural resources, and public lands, as they related to the proposed 600 MW Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project, which was proposed to be the first large, new-dam hydroelectric project constructed in the United States in more than four decades. Represented the state in consultation with NPS, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Alaska Native entities, and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game on issues related to terrestrial and aquatic species, public recreation, land use, and socioeconomics, as well as issues arising under the Wildlife and Scenic Rivers, Alaska Statehood Act, and federal lands. Currently represents the state on hydropower regulatory matters regarding the 120 MW Bradley Lake Project.
• National Hydropower Association (NHA). Serves as strategic and policy counsel to NHA before the U.S. Congress, the administration, and departmental agencies and bureaus on a wide array of emerging policy issues affecting the hydropower industry.
• Southeast Alaska Power Agency (SEAPA). Serves as FERC regulatory and hydropower policy counsel for SEAPA related to the 22 MW Swan Lake Project and the 20 MW Tyee Lake Project. Successfully represented SEAPA before Congress, the administration, and departmental agencies in obtaining special legislation that conveyed federal lands needed for the project within Tongass National Forest to the State of Alaska.
• Kodiak Electric Association (KEA). Served as FERC regulatory and federal policy counsel for KEA with regard to the 36 MW Terror Lake Project, including obtaining targeted federal legislation to address complex regulatory requirements arising from the project's presence in Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge.
• FERC Annual Charges Group. Previously represented a coalition of hydropower licensees in protecting the hydropower industry's interests in annual charges billed by numerous federal resource agencies through FERC's annual charges program. This effort generated more than $100 million in refunds and cost savings to the coalition and resulted in the seminal ruling of the D.C. Circuit in City of Tacoma v. FERC, 331 F.3d 106 (D.C. Cir. 2003), which continues to provide benefits to the hydropower industry today.
• FERC Federal Land Fees Litigation. Successfully represented a large coalition of hydroelectric licensees in administrative litigation before FERC and in appellate proceedings concerning FERC's federal land fees program, which yielded more than $20 million in refunds and cost savings following the court's ruling in City of Idaho Falls v. FERC, 629 F.3d 222 (D.C. Cir. 2011). Successfully argued the case before the D.C. Circuit.
• Federal Power Site Reservation Litigation. Successfully represented a large coalition of hydroelectric licensees in administrative litigation proceedings before FERC in overturning more than 30 years of precedent regarding FERC's treatment of hydropower lands subject to a federal power site reservation under Section 24 of the FPA.
• Rulemakings, Policy Statements and Amicus Briefs. Often serves as counsel to individual clients, industry associations, and coalitions in developing comments on major rulemakings, FERC policy statements and amicus briefs affecting hydropower. Examples of this work include:
- Los Angeles County Flood Control Dist. v. Natural Res. Def. Council Inc., 568 U.S. 78 (2013), and South Florida Water Management Dist. v. Miccosukee Tribe, 541 U.S. 95 (2004). Prepared amicus curiae briefs on behalf of hydropower interests to protect favorable precedent related to National Pollution Discharge Elimination Requirements at dams pursuant to Section 402 of the CWA.
- Catskill Mtns. Chapter of Trout Unlimited Inc. v. EPA, 846 F.3d 492 (2d Cir. 2017), and Friends of the Everglades v. South Florida Water Mgmt. Dist., 570 F.3d 1210 (11th Cir. 2009). Prepared amicus curiae briefs on behalf of hydropower interests supporting the Environmental Protection Agency's Water Transfers Rule.
- FERC Order No. 774, Annual Charges for the Use of Government Lands, 142 FERC ¶ 61,045 (2013). Prepared comprehensive comments on FERC's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on behalf of a large coalition of hydropower licensees.
- Policy Statement on Establishing License Terms for Hydroelectric Projects, 161 FERC ¶ 61,078 (2017). Participated in early outreach to senior FERC staff and FERC commissioners in raising concerns related to FERC's policy for establishing license terms, and later led a large coalition of licensees and industry associations in preparing written comments on FERC's proposed new policy.
Rankings and Recognition
• Recognized in The Legal 500 United States for Industry Focus: Energy Regulation: Conventional Power (2022)
• Chambers USA: Energy: Electricity (Regulatory & Litigation), USA - Nationwide (2021-2022)
• Best Lawyers in America®: Energy Law (2020-2023) and Environmental Law (2023)
• Colorado (Inactive)
• District of Columbia
• Supreme Court of the United States
• U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit
• U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit
• U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
• U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit
• University of Colorado Law School, J.D., 1999
• The University of Utah, B.S., cum laude, 1995