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.
She 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 has served as an adjunct professor at William & Mary Law School, teaching an introductory course on Energy Law.
Energy and Telecommunications
Professional Licensure, Administrative, and Regulatory Disputes
Representative Local Government Matters
- Counsel for Virginia Energy Governmental Association (VEPGA), an association of local governments in Dominion’s service territory, for contract negotiations with Virginia Power
- Counsel for City of Alexandria in transmission line proceeding
Representative Energy Services Matters
- Representing commercial customers in Virginia State Corporation Commission proceedings
- Representing industrial customers in FERC electricity and natural gas rate cases
- Negotiating for purchasers of renewable energy
- Advising on major energy legislation considered by the Virginia General Assembly.
- Representing local governments and developers in public utility commission proceedings involving siting of electric transmission lines.
Representative Power Producers Matters
- Negotiating purchase power contracts for independent power producers.
- Seeking regulatory approvals for certification of competitive service providers
- Representing renewable developers concerning interconnection matters involving the Virginia State Corporation Commission and PJM
Representative Telecommunications and Broadband Matters
- Advocating statewide regulation of electric cooperative pole attachments.
- Negotiating cable franchise agreements.
- Advising on implementation of statewide cable franchising provisions.
- Seeking regulatory approvals for certificates for competitive telecommunications services.
- Advising on rulemaking proceedings at public utility commission
- Selected by peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© in the field of Energy Law (2009-2023)
- Selected by The Best Lawyers in America© as Energy Law “Lawyer of the Year” (2022)
- Virginia Super Lawyers Energy & Natural Resources (2012-2018)
- Virginia Business Magazine’s “Legal Elite,” Legislative/Regulatory/Administrative category (2020-2022)
- Virginia Lawyers Weekly “Influential Women of Law” (2022)
- 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
- Duke University Law School, J.D., 1992
- Notes Editor, Alaska Law Review
- Duke University, M.A., 1992
- Princeton University, A.B., 1985
- Woodberry Forest School, 1981
- All Virginia courts including the Supreme Court of Virginia
- Energy Bar Association
- Board of Directors: 2020-present
- Southern Chapter, Board of Directors: 2013-present (Chair 2015-2016)
- Virginia Solar Energy Development Authority
- Chair (two four-year gubernatorial appointment
to board commencing 2015 and ending in 2023)
- Chair (two four-year gubernatorial appointment
- Virginia Renewable Energy Alliance
- Board of Directors: Chair, 2020-present; Treasurer, 2015-2019
- Virginia Chapter of Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT)
- Board of Directors: 2004-present; Secretary, 2015-present; Assistant Treasurer, 2011-2015
- President, 2009-2010; Treasurer, 2005-2007
- Virginia Bar Association
- Board of Governors, 2020-present
- Law Practice Management Division, Chair, 2020-present; Executive Counsel, 2011-present
- Administrative Law Section, Council Member, 2011-2016
- Virginia State Bar
- Environmental Law Section, Board of Governors, 2020-present
- Administrative Law Section, Board of Governors, former Chair; National Regulatory
Conference Planning Committee, 2008-present
- Disciplinary System, Third District Committee, Section II, 2007-2013
- Commonwealth Catholic Charities
- Board of Directors: Immediate Past Chair, 2021; Chair, 2017-present; Member, 2011-present
- Local Government Attorneys of Virginia
- Adjunct Professor
- William and Mary School of Law, 2014-present