A familiar face for Virginia’s competitive and renewable energy industry

Years ago, while in in her previous firm’s administrative law practice, some local government clients expressed an interest in purchasing Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) to help encourage more clean energy on the power grid.

Cliona was in charge of drafting the RFP — but she knew nothing about green or clean energy. So she took the time to educate herself.

“I found out that there’s a lot of customer interest in the use of renewable energy and cleaner and more competitive power options,” she says. “Customers large and small are demanding clean energy, as well as more control over their energy the way they choose. They have realized the utilities’ high-priced options are not sufficient alternatives.”

Today, Cliona is regarded as one of Virginia’s leading experts and staunch defenders of the interests of renewable and competitive service providers, as well as municipal, industrial, and commercial customers of electric, natural gas, and water utilities. Always adverse to monopoly utilities, Cliona’s work often regards issues surrounding rates and service. She has done a significant amount of work related to transmission line and facilities siting, advocating for customers that would be negatively impacted by utility projects. She also regularly works on renewable energy transactions involving solar power, wind power, and landfill gas, and advises energy lobbyists working in the Virginia General Assembly.

During her research into clean energy, Cliona also learned of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, the most widely used green-building rating system in the world. Becoming certified in LEED requires passing a comprehensive exam. “The last big test I had taken was the Bar exam many years earlier, so I found it rather daunting to sit for another exam,” she says. She put off the test three times before passing and earning her accreditation in 2009. A LEED® Accredited Professional (AP) designation is known more for its acquisition among architectural and construction professionals, but it is one denoting the Duke University graduate as an expert in green buildings.

At her previous firm, Cliona established a green energy practice long before anyone (peers included) thought renewables would become such an integral part of the economy. But her proudest career moment? Stopping the construction of electrical transmission lines across the Rappahannock River, towers that would have been adjacent to the iconic Robert O. Norris Bridge. Local residents hired Cliona to stop it from happening. “And we actually won,” she says. “We forced our opponent to put the lines underneath the river.”

Cliona also has considerable experience representing competitive telecommunications providers, cable companies, and independent power producers. She serves as an adjunct professor at William & Mary Law School, teaching an introductory course on Energy Law.

  • J.D., Duke University Law School, 1992
    • Notes Editor, Alaska Law Review
  • M.A., Duke University, 1992
  • B.A., Princeton University, 1985
  • Woodberry Forest School,1981
  • Representing citizens and local businesses opposing the removal of a transmission line from the Norris Bridge to transmission towers in the Rappahannock River
  • Representing competitive service providers opposing tariffs that would eliminate renewable supply options for customers of Virginia investor owned utilities
  • Advising customers, competitive service providers, and solar developers on major energy legislation considered by the Virginia General Assembly
  • Seeking regulatory approvals for certification of competitive service providers
  • Successfully defending competitive service providers in proceedings by incumbent utilities that seek to shut down access to competitive supply options
  • Advocating statewide regulation of electric cooperative pole attachments
  • Seeking regulatory approvals for certificates for competitive telecommunications services
  • Advising cable companies concerning affiliate act applications at public utility commissions
  • Advising on rulemaking proceedings at public utility commissions
  • Negotiating electricity supply contracts for local governments
  • Selected by peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© in the field of Energy Law, 2009 – 2020
  • Virginia Super Lawyers Energy & Natural Resources, 2012-2018
  • President’s Leadership Award, Virginia Cable Telecommunications Association, 2013
  • Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design® Accredited Professional (LEED® AP)
  • Qualified for Boston Marathon with time of 3:09
  • Adjunct Professor, William & Mary School of Law, 2014 to present
  • Virginia Solar Energy Development and Energy Storage Authority, Chair, 2018 to present (four-year gubernatorial appointment to board commencing 2015)
  • Virginia Renewable Energy Alliance, Treasurer, 2015 to present
  • Virginia Chapter of Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT), Board of Directors, 2004 to present
    • positions including President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Assistant Treasurer
  • Energy Bar Association, Southern Chapter, Board of Directors, 2013 to present
    • positions including Secretary/Treasurer, Vice President, President Elect and President
  • Virginia Bar Association
    • Law Practice Management Division, Vice Chair, 2018- 2019; Executive Council, 2011-present
    • Administrative Law Section, Council Member, 2011-2016
  • Virginia State Bar
    • Disciplinary System, Third District Committee, Section II, 2007-2013
    • Administrative Law Section, Board of Governors, former Chair; National Regulatory Conference Planning Committee, 2008-present
  • Commonwealth Catholic Charities, Chair of Board of Directors, 2017-present
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