Jeff Harris is a Partner in Ellison Schneider Harris & Donlan. Jeff’s practice focuses on power plant siting, environmental permitting and compliance as well as energy policy, regulation, and legislation. Jeff excels in developing and implementing permitting strategies for successfully licensing and constructing complex, multi-jurisdictional projects. He represents renewable and conventional energy projects in site approval proceedings before the California Energy Commission, federal agencies, and local governments. Jeff helped successfully license the largest solar thermal power plant in the California desert, numerous peaking power plants in rural and urban settings; high-voltage transmission lines through agricultural lands, open space and established communities; and the state’s most high-profile natural gas power plant in the south San Jose area.
Jeff has extensive experience in helping clients manage and navigate compliance issues arising from California’s extensive and complex environmental and energy regulatory regimes, including greenhouse gas (GHG) and carbon management obligations. He has a proven record of helping defend clients from potential enforcement actions.
In addition to his extensive background in project siting, environmental law, and compliance issues, Jeff’s practice focuses on a wide variety of California energy market and regulatory matters. In particular, Jeff assists clients with all aspects of asset management and project acquisitions, including due diligence for current project owners and for new market entrants looking to purchase existing assets, providing financing opinions and counsel on the unique nature of California law. Jeff is skilled in helping his clients formulate strategies for significant new opportunities in the California energy markets, especially given the recent regulatory mandates emphasizing the renewable energy, GHG reduction, and energy storage.
Prior to entering private practice, Jeff worked for the United States House of Representatives. He was Associate Staff to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, responsible for funding all federal energy and water projects. Concurrently, Jeff served as Legislative Counsel to Congressman Vic Fazio (Ret.) on energy, water, federal lands, and endangered species issues and served as the Congressman’s liaison with executive branch agencies and the federal judiciary. This extensive political experience provides Jeff with a unique understanding of the legal, political, and regulatory interplay of California law and policy, in general, and California energy and water policies, in particular.
Jeff works with clients to analyze and understand existing statutory and regulatory frameworks. He frequently drafts language for proposed legislation as well as the collateral materials used to advocate for changes in law, and has extensive experience in both informal and formal agency rulemaking proceedings. Jeff has experience testifying in legislative hearings, both defending current law and advocating for changes in law that provide new opportunities for market participants.
In addition to his energy practice, Jeff is experienced with land use and development issues. Prior to joining Ellison Schneider Harris & Donlan, he represented landowners seeking entitlements and discretionary approvals. Jeff has extensive experience in representing clients before City Councils, Boards of Supervisors, and special districts in licensing, permitting, rulemakings, and administrative proceedings.