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When: June 11, 2019
See event details.
Where: Minnesota Rural Electric Association
11640 73rd Ave. N
Maple Grove, Minnesota  55369
United States
Contact: Gayle Karol

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MREA Legal Seminar

Tuesday, June 11, 2019, 8 am -4 pm
Minnesota Rural Electric Association, Conference Room, Maple Grove, MN

This one-day seminar will bring you up-to-date on issues affecting electric cooperatives in Minnesota and nationwide. It is an exclusive opportunity for electric cooperative attorneys or co-op staff to share information and get an in-depth overview of hot topics and current challenges in the utility industry.

Who Should Attend

This seminar is primarily for electric cooperative attorneys and will earn CLE credits. Electric co-op CEOs and staff are also welcome to attend.


Key Topics


·        Third party sales

·        Vegetation management

·        National legal update

·        Easements

·        Territorial issues

·        Cybersecurity

Detailed Agenda & Continuing Legal Education Credits (CLEs)

7:30 registration and continental breakfast


8-9:00 am Vegetation management: growing legal considerations (applied for 1 CLE Credit) – Nicholas Pascale

This session will initially address some fundamental legal considerations regarding vegetation management, such as easements, danger trees and related litigation.  Building on the fundamentals, this session will also cover other legal considerations, such as: Legal considerations when using vegetation management contractors; Vegetation management on federal lands; and much more.


9-10:00 am National legal update (applied for 1 CLE Credit) – Nicholas Pascale

This session will address recent legal developments impacting, or potentially impacting, electric cooperatives.


10-10:15 am Break

10:15-11:15 am Third party sales (applied for 1 CLE credit) - Mary Ann Ralls


11:15-12:15 pm Territorial annexations and service territory complaints (applied for 1 CLE Credit) – Sara McGrane

We will review Minnesota law and the method municipals may use to acquire service territory from an electrical cooperative.  216B.44 is a process before the Public Utilities Commission, and we will review both the method and factors used in this proceeding.  216B.47 is a process before a state district court, and we will likewise review bot the method and factors used in this proceeding.  We will finally discuss the Minnesota Supreme Court’s most recent decision, and review issues that remain unresolved for future litigation.

12:15-12:45 pm Lunch

12:45-1:45 pm Cybersecurity (applied for 1 CLE Credit) – Scott Blake

This session will cover cybersecurity generally from the attorney’s perspective. We will discuss issues such as cybersecurity policies and planning, data breech, cybersecurity insurance and ow cybersecurity should be taken into consideration when contracting with vendors. We will also discuss how cybersecurity affects an attorney’s duties and obligations to clients.


1:45-2:45 pm Distributed Energy Resource (DER) Update Kristi Robinson, Star Energy Services

The state of Minnesota currently has interconnection process standards in effect to address the interconnection of distributed energy resources (DER) to the distribution grid. Under Minnesota statute 216B.1611, electric cooperatives must adopt an interconnection process that addresses the same issues as the interconnection process approved by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC). This course explains the statute and new processes in place to fulfil the legal requirements.


2:45-3:00 pm Break


3-4:00 pm Easements and Rural Electric Cooperatives (applied for 1 CLE) – Jeff Dobberpuhl

This presentation will cover the various laws in Minnesota governing easement formats available to Cooperatives. It will also discuss for methods to obtain and defend easement use available to Cooperative Attorneys.



Mary Ann Ralls, NRECA
Mary Ann Ralls joined the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association in 2005 and is a Senior Director, Regulatory Counsel. She is handling, among other things, state regulatory and retail matters, including energy efficiency and distributed energy resource issues.   Prior to joining NRECA, Ms. Ralls was in private practice in Washington, D.C., most recently as Regulatory Counsel at the law firm of Duane Morris LLP. Her extensive experience includes representing municipalities both at the federal and state levels on electric restructuring, transmission rights and market design.  Ms. Ralls received her JD from the Catholic University of America in 1988 and a BA from the University of Virginia in 1982.  She lives in Falls Church, Virginia with her husband and son.

Nicholas Pascale, NRECA

Nick Pascale is Assistant General Counsel for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (“NRECA”) headquartered in Arlington, Virginia.   He works in the Member Counsel Unit within NRECA’s Office of General Counsel, which focuses primarily on legal issues affecting electric cooperatives.  This includes contributing to NRECA’s monthly Legal Reporting Service and speaking at seminars and meetings.  He also serves as legal counsel to Touchstone Energy Cooperative, Inc. 

Prior to joining NRECA, Nick was in private practice in Virginia and Louisiana, focusing on commercial litigation and transactions.  Before entering private practice, Nick served as a judicial clerk in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  He is a graduate of Louisiana State University (J.D., M.B.A.) and Virginia Tech.

Sara McGrane, Felhaber Larson

Sara Gullickson McGrane is an experienced litigator who has handled hundreds of matters in both the federal and state courts of many states, including Minnesota and North Dakota. She has tried numerous cases to jury verdict, and has tried one or more cases to verdict in eight of the last twelve years. Sara focuses her practice on litigation, with an emphasis on employment law, and is certified as a specialist in Labor & Employment Law by the Minnesota State Bar Association. Sara has extensive experience handling complex litigation in both the employment and commercial arena and significant experience in all aspects of employment litigation, including cases involving breach of contract, discrimination (including age, disability, gender, marital status, national origin, race, religion, and sexual orientation), defamation, harassment, non-competes, and wage and hour. She has handled approximately 25 appeals to state and federal appellate courts.

Scott Blake, Felhaber Larson

Scott’s practice is devoted to business and employment litigation. He has represented clients in both federal and state courts across the nation in matters involving trade secrets, non-competes, business torts, contracts, RICO, consumer fraud, products liability, and estates and trusts litigation. Prior to joining Felhaber, Scott worked for a boutique litigation firm in Chicago where he focused on business litigation and trust and family business controversies. During law school, Scott worked at the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation where he prosecuted physicians, nurses, and other health-related professionals for violations of their respective licensing acts. Scott also worked at the Cook County Public Defender’s Office and clerked for the Honorable Allen Goldberg, Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. Scott is admitted to practice law in Minnesota, Illinois, and U.S. District Courts of Minnesota and the Northern District of Illinois.

Kristi Robinson, STAR Energy Services
Kristi started her career in 2002 as a Distribution System Engineer at Steele-Waseca Cooperative Electric. In late 2015 Kristi made a change and is now working for Star Energy Services, LLC as a manager of rates and regulations. Her primary areas of responsibility include system planning, renewable policy and regulation, cost of service studies, service territory conflicts, integration of utility technologies, and operation management of Southern Minnesota Energy Cooperative. Kristi received her Bachelor in Electrical Engineering from North Dakota State University and Masters in Engineering Management from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. She is a licensed professional engineer in the Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Iowa. In addition, Kristi has completed the Robert I. Kubat Management Internship Program in 2014. Kristi’s other job is the mom to three kids ages 7, 9, and 11 who are all destined to become liberal arts majors as Kristi’s husband is also an engineer by trade. Kristi currently resides in Underwood, MN with her family.

Jeff Dobberpuhl, Jeffery A. Dobberpuhl Law Office

Jeffery A. Dobberpuhl is a practicing attorney who has served rural electric cooperatives for over 29 years. He has lectured for NRECA on the national level on the subject of Easements and legal fundamentals, and has been a regular speaker at statewide attorney seminars. His is currently the Electric Cooperative Bar Association Representative for Minnesota, and is a one of the presenters on Cooperative Law at the MIP program in Madison Wisconsin. Currently, he Vice President for Attorneys Title Guaranty Fund Inc.






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