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About Cathy

Catherine McCarthy has represented clients on energy regulation and policy matters for more than two decades. Cathy currently chairs Bracewell's Energy Regulatory Department. Her experience includes obtaining Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and state authorizations for major projects and transactions; FERC compliance and enforcement matters; FERC transmission and centralized markets issues; and rate, tariff and refund matters. She also represents energy clients before the Department of Energy, the Federal Communications Commission and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Cathy has been recognized as one America’s Leading Lawyers for Energy Law by Chambers USA (2010-2017) and Chambers Global (2014-2018); selected as one of The American Lawyers 45 Under 45 (2011); and included in The Legal 500 United States, Energy: Regulatory (2011-2013, 2016-2017).

Catherine McCarthy receives praise from a client who reports that she is an 'excellent lawyer with deep knowledge of federal energy regulatory matters, coupled with practical, clear advice.'
Chambers USA, 2017


Recent Notable Matters

International energy company — U.S. regulatory approvals for its combination with another energy player, creating the world's largest independent power producer

Purchaser — $450 million acquisition of a waste-to-energy business

Energy company — $7.4 billion sale to a consortium of infrastructure funds

Energy company — $8 million merger

Publications and Speeches

“Regulated Industry M&A Transactions:  Special Considerations and Recent Developments”, Panelist, American Bar Association Webinar January 2018. 

“Investing in Energy:  Outlook and Opportunities, Power – Supply and Demand for Private Capital, Acquisition & Divestiture Driver and the Regulatory Dynamic”, Panelist, Bloomberg BNA (New York, NY) November 2017. 

“A Call to Focus on Strengthening Grid Resiliency and Reliability,” National Law Review, September 2017.

"FERC Compliance," Portland, OR, October 2016.

"FERC Reconsiders Horizontal Market Power in Transactions," Law360, September 2016.

"Changing Mix of U.S. Power Generation Presents Opportunities and Legal Challenges," American Bar Association, May 2016.

"Energy & Utilities Sector" Financier Worldwide, December 2015.

"Energy Infrastructure Development Faces Impediments," Natural Gas & Electricity Journal, April 2015.

"Impacts of New FERC ROE Calculation Formulae on Transmission Owners and Projects," Infocast’s 18th Annual Transmission Summit, March 2015.

"Utility M&A: Mid-Year Update," SNL Energy Webinar, September 2013.

"Rolling Off Long-Term Power Sales Agreements? Plan Ahead to Avoid Regulatory Speed Bumps," 21st Annual North American Waste-to-Energy Conference, April, 2013.

"Takeaways from FERC’s Recent Due Diligence Order," Law360, February 2013.

"Energy & Utilities Sector Roundtable," Financier Worldwide, December 2012.

"FERC Order 1000 gives transmission planning an update," Windpower Engineering & Development, April 2012.

"Transmission Incentives and Order 1000," Yale Alumni in Energy Annual Conference, New Haven, CT, March 2012.

"Due Diligence Workshop - SNL EXNET Power & Utilities M&A Symposium," New York, January 2012.



Georgetown University Law Center,
Yale University,

Bar Admissions

District of Columbia
New York


American Bar Association, Secretary Designee
Vice Chair of Electricity Committee and Co-Chair of Programs Committee, Infrastructure and Regulated Industries Section



Energy Infrastructure Development Faces Impediments

March 13, 2015
Natural Gas Electricity

Roundtable: Energy & Utilities Sector

December 31, 2012
Financier Worldwide

People Moves of the Week

May 14, 2012
Mergers & Acquisitions

Bracewell picks up five new partners

May 9, 2012
Houston Business Journal - Online



FERC Annual Enforcement Update

FERC Annual Enforcement Update On November 16, 2017, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or the “Commission”) released the Office of Enforcement’s (“OE”) annual report on enforcement activities (“ Annual Report ”) for fiscal year 2017 (“FY 2017”). Although the report, which covers activities from October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2017, merely reflects the activities and views of enforcement staff and is not necessarily representative of the views of the Commission or any Commissioner, the Annual Report can provide useful insights into compliance issues faced by market...

FERC Improves Treatment of Passive Tax Equity for Transaction Approvals

On October 4, 2017, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) issued an order clarifying that it will not treat certain tax equity interests in public utilities or public utility holding companies as voting securities for purposes of transaction approval requirements pursuant to Section 203 of the Federal Power Act (“FPA”) (“Passive Interest Order”). [1] The Passive Interest Order provides guidance regarding FERC’s consideration of certain “tax equity” passive interests for purposes of determining whether transactions involving such interests constitute a transfer of control over the...

DOE Proposes FERC Action to Preserve and Compensate Baseload Generation Resources

Pursuant to its authority under Section 403 of the Department of Energy Organization Act, on September 29, 2017, the Department of Energy (“DOE”) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) directing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) to take prompt action to help prevent further retirements of baseload generation resources located within the centralized markets operated by FERC-jurisdictional Regional Transmission Organizations (“RTO”) and Independent System Operators (“ISO”). The NOPR comes just over one month after issuance of a report by DOE staff on electricity markets...

A Call to Focus on Strengthening Grid Resilience and Reliability: DOE Staff Report Offers Timely Insights on Fundamental Market Changes

The U.S. Department of Energy (“DOE”) recently released its highly-anticipated Staff Report to the Secretary on Electricity Markets and Reliability . The report weighs heavily on the themes of focusing on grid resilience and reliability in light of recent fundamental changes in the sources of generation. The report is definitely worth reading for those working in the electric industry and is a data-driven analysis of the varied and complex factors that have led to today’s structured electricity markets in which coal-fired generation has substantially diminished, gas-fired generation has...

A Path Begins to Emerge: Industry Responses to FERC Proposals Respecting State Policies and Eastern Wholesale Markets

A Path Begins to Emerge: Industry Responses to FERC Proposals Respecting State Policies and Eastern Wholesale Markets On May 1-2, 2017, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) held a two day conference focused on the interplay between state policy goals and the organized markets for energy and capacity operated by Regional Transmission Organizations (“RTO”) and Independent System Operators (“ISO”) in the East. The conference focused on what steps, if any, FERC should take to protect the integrity of wholesale markets given the recent proliferation of state policies intended to...

FERC Audit Report Provides Guidance Regarding Reporting Of Uplift And Capacity Payments In Electric Quarterly Reports

On October 14, 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) issued an order approving an audit report providing guidance regarding how to report certain types of transactions and payments received by those participating in the FERC-jurisdictional markets operated by Regional Transmission Organizations (“RTO”) and Independent System Operators (“ISO”) in a seller’s Electric Quarterly Reports (“EQR”). The audit report highlights pitfalls that market-based rate sellers should avoid when submitting EQRs and provides insight into areas of likely FERC scrutiny. In particular, FERC staff’s...

FERC Reconsidering Horizontal Market Power Analyses For Purposes of Section 203 Filings and Market-Based Rate Applications

Executive Summary On September 22, 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) issued a Notice of Inquiry (“NOI”) seeking comment on whether FERC should make changes to the manner in which it evaluates horizontal market power for purposes of evaluating transactions under Section 203 of the Federal Power Act (“FPA”) and its market-based rate program. Among other things, if FERC ultimately adopts this proposal, certain transactions that currently require no detailed market power analysis to be submitted in order to obtain approval would now be subject to more scrutiny. For instance...

FERC Alters Proposal to Enhance Reporting in Support of Enforcement

At the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (“FERC” or “Commission”) July 21, 2016 meeting, FERC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) proposing to establish a new reporting regime that would require market-based rate (“MBR”) sellers and entities only trading virtual products and financial transmission rights in markets operated by Regional Transmission Organizations (“RTO”) and Independent System Operators (“ISO”) (“Virtual/FTR Participants”) to submit detailed ownership, employee, and contractual information to a database maintained by FERC. FERC proposes that its staff would...

FERC Notice of Alleged Violation Foreshadowed by Market Monitor Report in Southwest Power Pool

On May 6, 2016, the Office of Enforcement of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) issued a Staff Notice of Alleged Violations (“NAV”), disclosing a nonpublic investigation in which FERC staff has preliminarily determined that Saracen Energy Midwest, LP (“Saracen”) violated Southwest Power Pool, Inc.’s (“SPP”) Open Access Transmission Tariff (“Tariff”), Attachment AE, § 7.4.1(4) between August 2014 and March 2015. According to FERC staff, Saracen submitted bids for transmission congestion rights (“TCRs”) at electronically equivalent settlement points, which is prohibited by § 7.4...

FERC Report on Transmission Investment and Related Technical Conference

At the March 17, 2016 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ("FERC") meeting, FERC's Office of Energy Policy and Innovation presented a report assessing the effectiveness of FERC's transmission investment policies, including Order No. 1000 reforms and identifying possible policy changes ("Report"). The Report includes data from 2013-2015. The report is located here and the presentation is located here . On March 17, 2016, FERC also announced a planned Technical Conference regarding competitive transmission development rates to be held on June 27-28, 2016, with details located here . The...

FERC Enforcement - What to Expect in 2015

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC's) Office of Enforcement (Enforcement) recently released its annual report on enforcement activities for 2014. As is typical, Enforcement identified its primary concerns as detecting and deterring fraud and manipulation in its markets and ensuring the safety and reliability of the grid. Enforcement also released statistics on its 2014 settlements ($25 million in civil penalties, $4 million in disgorgement) but those statistics concern cases that began years earlier and shed little light on what market participants should expect in 2015. [1] In...



Chambers Global
Energy: Electricity (Regulatory & Litigation), 2014 - 2018
Chambers USA
Nationwide Energy: Electricity (Regulatory & Litigation), 2010 - 2017
The Legal 500 United States
Energy Regulatory: Conventional Power, 2017; Energy: Regulatory, 2011 - 2013, 2016 - 2017; Transaction and Regulatory, 2011
Euromoney Institutional Investor plc
Expert Guides
Energy & Natural Resources, 2012 - 2017
Euromoney Institutional Investor plc
Expert Guides, Women in Business Law
Energy & Natural Resources, 2012 - 2017
Thomson Reuters
Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers
2013, 2015 - 2017
ALM Media Properties, LLC
The American Lawyer
45 Under 45, 2011
Georgetown University Law Center
Georgetown Immigration Law Journal
Administrative Editor
Columbus School of Law
The Catholic University of America
Adjunct professor, 1996-1998