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Erika D. Benson
Partner, Government Affairs
One American Center, Suite 3000
600 Congress Avenue
Area(s) of Expertise
Erika Benson is a partner in Gardere's Government Affairs Practice Group. Her practice focuses on providing policy and regulatory advice to: (i) companies investing in generation and transmission assets; (ii) developers of new and emerging technologies; and (iii) developers, investors and energy product manufacturers navigating new markets of entry in the Americas.
Ms. Benson has over 13 years of experience, in Washington, D.C. and Latin America, related to energy, government relations, trade and foreign policy, including serving as Senior Advisor for the Americas in the Office of Policy and International Affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). She specializes in the development of best practices and policies based on her U.S. regulatory experience to maximize electricity regulatory framework development in various nations in Latin America.
In addition to her electricity regulatory work, Ms. Benson also provides guidance to clients on a variety of state and federal energy-related compliance issues. She counsels clients on transmission open access compliance, as well as electric reliability compliance as it relates to interstate and intrastate transmission line siting and strategy development, generation and transmission planning for utilities. Ms. Benson also works with natural gas clients on LNG import/export compliance and authorizations with Homeland Security and DOE reporting regulations for cross-border pipeline imports and exports.
Prior to joining Gardere, Ms. Benson served as President at Benson International Group Inc., a firm she founded. Benson International Group provides clients with regulatory, legislative and political-related legal and consulting services with both national and state-level perspectives through staff in Austin and San Antonio, Texas.
Ms. Benson began her practice and honed her skills at two international law firms. While at these firms, she was involved in cross-border electricity transmission development and policy issues between the United States and Mexico, as well as cross-border transmission development in the Americas. Ms. Benson is proficient in Spanish.
Clients and Matters
- Representing Mexican distributed generation solar company to obtain debt financing and to structure the first solar leasing model for Mexican residential and commercial sectors.
- Representing clean tech company to identify and work with U.S. agencies for startup funding.
- Representing environmental remediation company as project counsel and assisting with corporate and debt/equity matters.
- Providing counsel on regulatory structure for renewable energy and energy efficiency enhancements to multilateral bank.
- Providing U.S. export compliance advice to an energy services company, a software company and a manufactured products company.
Previous Transactional, Regulatory, Advisory and Litigation Engagements
- Provided regulatory and corporate counsel to both jurisdictional and non-jurisdictional electric utility clients, state utility commissions and energy marketers on a broad range of administrative and regulatory issues before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), DOE and other federal agencies.
- Counsel for electric utility to develop and implement new transmission open season concept to increase renewable generation development.
- Counsel for electric utility to develop (renewable) geothermal, wind and solar generation interconnection cluster study concept under federal regulatory guidelines.
- Co-Counsel for electric utility before the DOE and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit for the federal appeal of the U.S. DOE National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor designation.
- Lead managing associate for FERC remand proceedings of U.S. Supreme Court decision arising out of the western energy crisis of 2000-2001; Morgan Stanley Capital Group, Inc. v. Public Utility District No. 1 of Snohomish County et al.
- Lead managing associate for electric utility on electricity payment refund matters related to the western energy crisis of 2000-2001, including participation in settlement matters.
- Counsel for electric utilities in various RTOs on Open Access Transmission Tariff (OATT) compliance, interstate and intrastate transmission line siting, planning and electric reliability compliance consistent with FERC standards of conduct and NERC/WECC reliability standards to interconnect renewable, nuclear and natural gas generation facilities.
- Export compliance Counsel for energy services companies and successfully managed compliance issues before the U.S. DOE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
- Drafted international cooperative agreements involving renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy security.
- U.S. Agency staff lead for International Energy Initiative.
- J.D., The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law (May 2005)
- B.A., Denison University (May 1999)
- Political Science and Spanish (double major)
- Recipient, Denison Alumni Award
- Recipient, Denison Grant
- Recognized, Dean's List (1997)
- International Study, Colombia-American Center for United Studies/Universidad de Los Andes, Bogota, Colombia (1998)
- Author, La Epoca de La Violencia [en Colombia] (senior thesis)
Publications and Speeches
- Principal Author, Impact of Interruptible Natural Gas Service on Northeast Heating Oil Demand (EIA 2000) (requested by Sen. Joseph Lieberman)(http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/oil_gas/natural_gas/analysis_publications/interruptible_service_northeast/interrupt.pdf).
- Author, Residential Natural Gas Prices: What Consumers Should Know (EIA 2000) (also designed and developed brochure cited by Associated Press, Natural Gas Intelligence, other trade publications, and state commissions and offices) (http://www.eia.doe.gov/oil_gas/natural_gas/analysis_publications/residential_natural_gas_prices/Chapter1.html).
- Speaker, Address before the Texas House Committee on International Trade and Intergovernmental Affairs (regarding international energy trade and investment) (2013).
- Speaker, Address at SXSW Eco: Developing Renewable Energy Projects in the Texas-Mexico Border Region (2012).
- Speaker, Address at Realizing the Economic Strength of our 21st Century Border - Trade, Education and Jobs Conference: Developing Renewable Energy Projects in the Texas-Mexico Border Region (2012) (hosted by Arizona State University North American Center for Transborder Studies in partnership with U.S. Department of Commerce).
- Speaker, Address at Latin America Council on Renewable Energy (LACCORE-ACORE) Event: Mexican Renewable Energy Development (2012).
- Speaker, Address at Renewable Energy Finance Forum - Latin American Council Annual Conference: Distributed Generation Legislative and Regulatory Framework Development in New Markets focusing on Texas, Jamaica and Chile (2012).
- Speaker, Address at Latin America Council on Renewable Energy (LACCORE-ACORE) Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas Event for the Financial Sector (2011).
- Speaker, Address at U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce Annual Good Neighbors Gala and Awards Event: U.S. Cross Border Energy Trade (2011).
- Quoted, Texas Not Even Out of the Woods with a Mild Summer, Natural Gas Weekly (2012) (spoke as expert on ERCOT market with ERCOT CEO Tripp Doggett).
- Participant, Central American Power Conference (2010).
- Moderator and Co-Host, Women in Power Forum (2007, 2008).
- Admitted to practice before:
- Florida State Courts
- District of Columbia Courts
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit and District of Columbia Circuit
- Member, The Florida Bar
- Member, The District of Columbia Bar
- Former Member, U.S. Court of International Trade