Joan E. Drake - Modrall Sperling

Joan E. Drake

Listed in Best Lawyers since 2017

Joan Drake has assisted clients for over ten years as a lawyer on utility regulation and environmental permitting matters.

In utility matters, Joan represents clients on matters involving state and federal regulation of electric and gas utility rates and service, facility siting, wholesale and retail sales, utility acquisition, renewable energy and Qualifying Facilities ("QF"), electric transmission and interconnection, gas pipelines, power purchase and service agreements, and energy efficiency.  In addition to representing clients on individual matters before the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission ("PRC") and Renewable Energy Transmission Authority ("RETA"), Joan monitors and updates her clients on regulatory and legislative developments of interest to energy, utility, and transmission companies doing business in New Mexico and throughout the West.

Joan also assists clients with regulatory compliance, litigation strategy, and defense of Environmental Assessments, Environmental Impact Statements and the NEPA process; Section 404 CWA compliance, including Nationwide Permits, Individual Permits, mitigation, and enforcement; and compliance with related environmental laws, including the Endangered Species Act and National Historic Preservation Act.

Prior to her legal career, Joan was an environmental regulatory specialist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Los Angeles and New England, and has many years of experience implementing federal environmental laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA"), the Clean Water Act ("CWA") and related laws. Joan's experience at the Corps focused on large and controversial projects and enforcement matters. Joan offers clients the unique perspective of both a seasoned regulator and a knowledgeable lawyer.

Joan presents frequently on environmental law and regulatory issues. She currently serves as Chair of the Utility Service Group and Co-Chair of the Renewable Energy Service Group.

University of California BerkeleyBA 1976University of California Los AngelesMA 1980University of New MexicoJ.D. 2001
New Mexico FirstRocky Mountain Mineral Law FoundationEnergy Bar AssociationAmerican Bar AssociationState Bar of New Mexico

Case History

Federal Environmental Regulation — Representation of regional and national companies on major infrastructure and development projects regarding Federal permitting and NEPA issues. Representative projects include electric transmission, pipelines, mining, oil and gas, and railroads. As a former U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regulator, Joan uses her unique perspective as a seasoned regulator and a knowledgeable lawyer to assist clients in understanding and navigating the Federal environmental permitting process to obtain government approvals with a strong record for litigation defense. 
State Utility and PRC Regulation
  • Representation of regional electric transmission developers in PRC rate cases and related investigations, and before the Federal district court.  The cases involve complex rate design and constitutional issues.
  • Representation of a natural gas utility in PRC energy efficiency and related matters, and representation of gas generation developers in successfully obtaining PRC location approvals.
  • Representation of large customers on rate and service matters involving major New Mexico electric public utilities, successfully achieving substantial cost control benefits for clients. 
Renewable Energy
Representation of renewable energy and transmission developers on state regulatory and legislative issues, Renewable Portfolio Standards, PPA approval, location approval, utility regulation, eminent domain, and coordination with the PRC and RETA. 

Office Location

500 Fourth Street, NW, Suite 1000
P.O. Box 2168
Albuquerque, NM 87103
United States

Practice Areas

Energy Regulatory Law

Other Information

Gender: Female