Joan E. Drake

Joan E. Drake

Modrall Sperling

Recognized since 2017

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Practice Areas

Energy Regulatory Law

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Joan Drake has assisted clients for nearly twenty 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”), 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 Clean Water 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 NEPA, the Clean Water Act, and other 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.

Best Lawyers in America® has recognized Joan in Energy Regulatory Law since 2017. She presents frequently on environmental law and regulatory issues. Joan currently serves as Chair of the Utility Service Group and Co-Chair of the Renewable Energy Service Group.

Contact & Links


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


  • University of New Mexico , J.D., graduated 2001
  • University of California Los Angeles, MA, graduated 1980
  • University of California Berkeley, BA, graduated 1976

Bar Admissions

  • New Mexico, State Bar of New Mexico
  • New Mexico, U. S. District Court for the District of New Mexico
  • New Mexico, U. S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit


  • American Bar Association - Previous Chair, Environmental Assessment Committee
  • Energy Bar Association - Board Member, 2012-2014
  • New Mexico First - Immediate Past Chair of the Board
  • Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation - Trustee, 2015-2016
  • State Bar of New Mexico - Member

Modrall Sperling
Headquarters: Albuquerque, New Mexico

32 The Best Lawyers in America® awards

2 Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America awards

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Full Firm Profile

Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America® 2022 for work in:

  • Energy Regulatory Law

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.

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