Jeffery D. Harris

Jeffery D. Harris
Rated by Super Lawyers

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Practice Focus
Facility Siting and Land Use
Solar Energy Siting
California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)
Energy Efficiency and Building Standards
Public Utility Regulation
Compliance & Enforcement
Renewable Energy
Public Agency Representation
Negotiation, Alternative Dispute Resolution & Litigation
Energy Transactions
Transmission & Interconnection
Consumer Representation
Land Use/Zoning
Energy Regulation
Air Quality and Air Emissions
Renewable Energy
Administrative Law

Bar and Court Admissions
State Bar of California
All California State Courts
United States Court of Appeal, Ninth Circuit
United States District Courts (Southern and Eastern Districts)

J.D., University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, 1993
M.A., Penn State University, 1986
B.A. , University of California, Davis, 1984

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.

Representative Experience

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.

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.


  • Lead attorney for approval of the then highly controversial Metcalf Energy Center in South San Jose
  • Lead attorney for Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System solar thermal project in California Desert
  • Lead attorney in defending California Energy Commission licenses for clean, efficient natural gas powerplants
  • Reported case, Santa Teresa Citizen Action Group et al. v. California Energy Commission, 105 Cal.App.4th 1441, 130 Cal.Rptr.2d 392, Feb. 5, 2003, As Modified Feb. 24, 2003, Review Denied May 14, 2003
Representative Clients

Public agencies, public and investor-owned utilities, non-utility power producers, utility consumers and non-profit entities such as the following:

AES Corporation
Calpine Corporation
Middle River Power
Diamond Generating Company, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi
Turlock Irrigation District
Orange County Waste and Recycling
EdgeCore Internet Real Estate
Nest Labs
California Manufacturing and Technology Association
Entertainment Software Association
Clearwater Port
Energy Source
Controlled Thermal Resources
California Independent Energy Producers Association
BrightSource Energy

Industries Served

Electric generation industry including those developing and operating utility-scale wind, solar, geothermal, and natural gas power plants

Landowners and developers seeking entitlements to construct projects in compliance with CEQA

Large scale electric consumers such as Stanford University and the California High Speed Rail Authority

Awards and Professional Recognition

Chambers USA “Best Lawyers in the U.S.” (2007 to Present)

Northern California Super Lawyers (2017 to Present)

Chambers and Partners recognized Jeff in 2020 noting that he is particularly experienced in power plant siting, regulation and legislation and that he regularly appears before the CEC for both conventional energy and renewables projects in site approval proceedings.

Sacramento Magazine's List of 2020 Top Lawyers in Sacramento

Speaking Engagements

Why Is California Unique? NEPA and CEQA Issues in Siting Wind Energy Projects in California; Panelist; American Wind Energy Association; Portland Oregon, 2004. Energy in California

Law Seminars International; Conference Co-Chair; San Francisco, California, 2007. Siting Challenges and Opportunities in California: Siting Processes California Powerplants And Electric Infrastructure (Powerplants and Transmission Lines)

Panelist, Wyoming Infrastructure Authority, Quarterly Meeting, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, 2012. California: The “SONGS” Remain the Same: In-State Resources, Greenhouse Gas Policy, Renewable Portfolio Standards and Opportunities in California for Wyoming Wind

Panelist, Wyoming Infrastructure Authority, Quarterly Meeting, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, 2013. Permitting Thermal and Non-Thermal Powerplants in California, Environmental Impact Review Processes for Energy Projects

Faculty, Law Seminars International; San Francisco, California, 2014

Community Involvement

Chabot Space and Science Center (Foundation Board Member 2014-Present; Vice Chair 2019)

International Children’s Resource Institute (Board Member 2012-Present)


The New York Times,
"THE POWER CRISIS: THE RESULTS; The Dog Day in June The Lights Went Out" by Chris Gaither, January 12, 2001

MIT Technology Review
,"World's Largest Solar Thermal Power Plant Delivers Power for the First Time" by Kevin Bullis, September 24, 2013